Westmoreland County Priest Pleads Guilty

Admits to Sex Abuse of Boy 26 Years Ago in Lower Burrell

Joe DeStio
July 31, 2018 - 2:57 pm
 A retired priest in the Greensburg Catholic Diocese has pleaded guilty to one count of indecent assault for forcing oral sex on a ten year old boy in the early 90’s.

Joe DeStio

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GREENSBURG (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) – A retired priest in the Greensburg Catholic Diocese has pleaded guilty to one count of indecent assault for forcing oral sex on a ten year old boy in the early '90s.

Father John Thomas Sweeney served at St. Margaret Mary parish in Lower Burrell at the time. He was indicted one year ago by a statewide investigating grand jury.

“There can be no doubt Father Sweeney is a predator priest,” according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who said he heard from some who attended St Margaret Mary and others in the diocese that the allegations could not be true.

Appearing with Shapiro at a news conference to announce the plea was the victim in the case. Josh, who didn’t want his last name to be used, said he stepped forward after watching the movie Spotlight about abuse cover up in the Boston Catholic Diocese.

“I knew that it was an institutional problem and not just a one-time incident so I decided to come forward at that point,” according to Josh. He said he was looking for closure in the case and also wanted to encourage other victims. “The greatest thing would be for more people to come forward. That was my whole goal.”

Shapiro says he believes there are other victims, though he wouldn’t say if other victims of Father Sweeney have notified authorities.

Sweeney, 74, was assigned to seven different parishes in a career that started in 1970 until his retirement in 2016. He will be sentenced within 90 days and could get up to five years in prison.

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