Catholic Priest

Austin E. Flanagan

Diocese: Diocese of Scranton

From Report I of the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:

On September 11, 1980, Bishop J. Carroll McCormick received a letter from a parishioner who advised that the parishioners were disgusted with Father Austin E. Flanagan. The letter stated that Flanagan would not let anyone in the rectory and that he was sleeping in sleeping bags with young boys.

On June 27, 1990, Bishop James C. Timlin received a letter from Dr. Richard D. Malone, Associate Medical Director, St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center in Harrison, New York concerning Flanagan. The letter was sent upon the request of, and with the permission of, Flanagan himself.

Flanagan related that approximately one month prior to his admission to St. Vincent’s Hospital, he had been questioned about fondling two boys at a summer camp two years earlier.  The boys had reported it to another priest who, in turn, reported it to Timlin. Flanagan told Malone that he did not deny what happened.  However, he stated, “I thought they were asleep and also I had a lot to drink.”  Flanagan acknowledge that several other similar instances in the past had occurred.

There was no information in the files concerning the identity of the two boys. On July 3, 2002, Flanagan was removed from active ministry.

In June, 2005, the Diocese was contacted by a 34-year-old male who claimed that he was sodomized by Flanagan in the rectory at St. Mary’s in 1973 when he was 11-years-old. Flanagan was questioned by Father Kopacz and denied any wrongdoing.

On June 27, 2005, the Diocese of Scranton reported the allegation to the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office.

On May 6, 2016, the Diocese sent a certified letter to each of the District Attorney’s Offices within the Diocese.  The letter included a list that contained the names of all priests against whom complaints of sexual abuse of minors had been made.  Flanagan’s name was on the list and several victims were identified.

Additional information regarding the widespread sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Dioceses of Pennsylvania and the systemic cover up by senior church officials is compiled in the Pennsylvania Diocese Victim’s Report published by the Pennsylvania Attorney General following a two-year grand jury investigation.  A complete copy of the Report is available on the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s website.