Former Area Priest Alleges Sexual Abuse

ERIE, Pa. (EYT) – A former Catholic priest who served as a campus minister at Clarion University has publicly announced allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of an Erie priest.

James Faluszczak, who served in the Erie Diocese for more than 20 years, including service in DuBois, Elk County, Warren County, as well as in Clarion, testified before a Pa. grand jury that a now-deceased priest molested him when he was in his teens and living in Erie more than 30 years ago.

Faluszczak, 48, now living in Buffalo, New York, has not publicly named the Erie priest or the parish. He said he was waiting until after the grand jury releases its report.

Faluszczak told exploreClarion.com, “They (grand jury) are coming to the end of their term, and I believe they should be releasing the findings soon.”

According to a published article in buffalonews.com, Faluszczak said he was molested by his priest in Erie when he was 16 to 19 years old.

He said he felt he could no longer function in the Catholic Church after two known bishops never acted on any of his allegations.

“I just couldn’t continue to be a part of it,” Faluszczak said.

“I feel like they are really wreaking havoc with people’s lives. This is an epidemic in our society.”

“It’s so inhumane the way this has been handled. The bishops don’t want to talk about it, and you’ve got vulnerable people that need help.”

In the midst of this allegation, Faluszczak does recall his time in Clarion County fondly, though.

“I loved my time in the Clarion area, some of the best people I worked with were in Clarion,” Faluszczak said.

Faluszczak served in Clarion County as a campus minister at Clarion University from 2001 to 2008.

After graduating from Gannon University in 1991, he received his Master’s in Divinity, Theology, and Ministry from Christ the King Seminary.

He served at St. Catherine’s in DuBois from 1994 to 1997, including one year as a priest.

He then worked at Elk County Catholic from 1997 to 2001 as a theology teacher and department chair.

He then worked in Clarion.

Then, Faluszczak served in Sheffield as the chaplain for two years at the State Hospital in Warren before returning to the ECC School System from 2011 to 2014.

In August 2014, he was charged with DUI in Fox Township, Elk County. He said he suffers from PTSD and that trauma related to the abuse contributed to his drinking problem. Faluszczak entered the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, a program of probation for nonviolent, first-time offenders.

“I knew I had a drinking problem, and I sought help for it at that time,” Faluszczak explained.

After making his claims of sexual abuse to both bishops in the Erie Diocese and not seeing anything done, he decided not to be a part of it.

“I just felt like I couldn’t function in the system,” Faluszczak said.

Faluszczak said he is still in therapy for PTSD, social anxiety disorder, and alcohol abuse.

“I am still seeing people regularly every week to deal with these issues, and they are relationships I’ve had to build by myself,” Faluszczak said. “It does help talking to other survivors, and I still feel the call from God to serve, but I feel I can’t function in that environment.”

“I give encouragement where I can – try to be helpful to those who are in need, who are suffering,” Faluszczak said.

He said his coming out has cost him in terms of relationships and in not being able to work.

“I’ve been out of work for three years, and there may be one priest in the Erie Diocese who will still speak to me,” Faluszczak said.

According to a published story on goerie.com, since 2016, the state Attorney General’s Office has been using the grand jury process to investigate how the Catholic Diocese of Erie and five other Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania handled allegations of clergy sexual abuse.

Faluszczak said he testified before the grand jury in Pittsburgh in October 2016.

In Buffalo, Faluszczak made the abuse allegation on Sunday during a demonstration outside St. Joseph Cathedral, where he and others called on Bishop Richard J. Malone to release the names of clergy involved in sexual-abuse cases in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

The Catholic Diocese of Erie has also made the attorney general’s office aware of Faluszczak’s allegation, diocesan spokeswoman Anne-Marie Welsh said Monday. She said the Erie diocese sent the file on the case to the attorney general’s office as part of the grand jury investigation.


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