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MERIDIAN, Pa. (KDKA) — A priest assigned to a church in Butler County is accused of repeatedly molesting boys and young men, even after he went to rehab and was told to stop.
Now Cardinal Donald Wuerl gained an international reputation for confronting child sex abuse, even defying the pope by refusing to reassign one pedophile priest, but his actions regarding another priest calls that reputation into question.
Buried in the 800-page grand jury report is the story of Father William O’Malley, who served at St. Conrad Church in Meridian, Butler County, in the ’80s and ’90s.
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The report shows in 1993, a man complained that when he was 22, O’Malley sexually assaulted him at the church’s rectory.
Two years before that, a parent warned the diocese O’Malley was buying underage boys gifts and having them sleep over at the rectory. The parent filing the abuse complaint told the diocese O’Malley had a pinball machine and even a hot tub to entertain the boys.
The reports says O’Malley was warned, but no other action was taken until four years later when another man said O’Malley got him drunk and molested him when he was 12, fondling him in bed and photographing three other boys in their underwear.
When confronted, O’Malley admitted the incident “probably happened” but said he was “much more careful not to touch kids now.”
Wuerl finally sent O’Malley to rehab where he was diagnosed with ephebophilia, or sexual attraction to adolescent boys, but Wuerl didn’t tell police. Instead, according to the report, Wuerl signed a memo saying O’Malley was “anxious to return to priestly ministry” and assigned him to administrative work.
All the while, O’Malley continued to sexually assault boys. Between 2002 and 2006, six more victims came forward. Three said they had been molested in the mid-’90s, one as recently as 1999. It wasn’t until 2003 that Wuerl finally forced and secured O’Malley’s resignation, and it wasn’t until 2006 that the diocese reported O’Malley to the district attorney.
At one point, near the end of O’Malley’s ministry, Wuerl even approved a $38,000 loan to O’Malley to bail out his financial debts, much of it racked up in his activities with minors.
O’Malley died in 2008.