Pennsylvania priest pleads ‘no contest’ to sexually assaulting a child, SNAP responds
Today, Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced that Fr. Andrew Kawecki pleaded no contest to sexually assaulting an altar boy in 2004. The victim was 11 years old at the time and the abuse continued until the boy was 14. The priest used his position of power to abuse within his parish at St. Cyril and Methodius Church in Fairchance, Pennsylvania.
Despite consistent rhetoric from Church officials that the sexual abuse scandal is a thing of the past, by our count an average of two Catholic clerics or staffers are charged each month with crimes against children or targeted adults. In Pennsylvania, Fr. Kawecki was identified following the release of the Grand Jury on Clergy Sexual Abuse in 2018 and was charged in August 2020. To date, the Office of Attorney General in Pennsylvania (OAG) has fielded over 2,000 tips regarding clergy and institutional abuse, and it was information received through this hotline that led to Fr. Kawecki's prosecution. This case shows the importance of secular investigations that provide opportunities for survivors to tell their stories and listen, hear, and act in response to those outcries.
Without the work done by the OAG, this brave victim would not have been inspired to come forward and Fr. Kawecki could still have access to children. The tip about the clergyman came in via the confidential hotline set up by the Attorney General’s office. We believe that A.G. Shapiro’s work has helped create a climate in Pennsylvania where survivors feel empowered to come forward and that work has paid dividends by getting dangerous perpetrators off the streets, helping to protect today’s children from sexual abuse.
We are grateful that the terms of the plea deal will require Fr. Kawecki to register as a sex offender for 10 years. We also hope the judge hears the voice of the victim in this case and imposes the maximum penalty allowed under the sentencing guidelines. This survivor, and the other victim who came forward shortly after the priest's arrest, will have to carry the pain of the abuse for a lifetime. We are in complete awe of the courage and strength of these two men. We hope that they know that their bravery will protect other young lives.
Every attorney general in every single state should be empaneling grand juries or launching investigations, using search warrants and subpoena power to access secret documents, and compelling testimony under oath, encouraging survivors in their own state to come forward to law enforcement. When elected officials use their power on behalf of the powerless it makes everyone in the community safer. It is time for this to happen nationwide and on a federal level.
CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager, (267-261-0578, [email protected]) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President, (814-341-8386, [email protected])
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)