Catholic Priest

Charles Procopio

Ordained: 1956
Diocese: Diocese of Harrisburg

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

Diocese of Harrisburg documents reveal an allegation of sexual abuse was made against Father Charles Procopio in October 1965.  Father McAndrew wrote a memorandum dated October 18, 1965, which stated he was informed via a telephone call that Procopio had molested girls in the seventh and eighth grades at Sacred Heart of Jesus in Harrisburg.  The person who made the report to McAndrew stated the girls told the principal of the school about the molestation, but nothing happened in response to the report.   McAndrew described one allegation of abuse as “immodest touches.”  He detailed how Procopio kissed the girls and felt their breasts.  Procopio pressed one girl against the wall in the rectory and touched the girl “in an immodest manner” and he made motions simulating intercourse while his body was pressed against the girl.  Procopio touched another girl in an “indecent manner” in a school hallway, which caused her to scream. A teacher heard the scream and found her in the hallway frightened.

The person making this report in 1965 stated “if nothing were done about this matter, he would be forced to take it to the police. However, he says that he would do nothing without consulting with the Chancery Office.”

The next day, on October 19, 1965, McGovern reviewed McAndrew’s memorandum regarding Procopio.  McGovern noted, “Father Propocio’s so-called immodest touches were actually manifestations of his effusive nature, imprudent but pure on his part.  We also agree that the touches were not objectively immoral but only interpreted as such by pre- adolescent girls.”

He also wrote they “concluded that the more recent actions received a distorted interpretation in the highly imaginative minds of pubescent girls.”

The  memorandum  from  1965  also  provided  that  McGovern  spoke  with  Procopio regarding the complaint.  McGovern explained to Procopio that “a girl of that age is so conscious of her womanhood that she feels all other people likewise are constantly noticing it all the times.  She considers any touch a ‘sex’ touch.  The pre-adolescent girl indulges in fantasy quite often.”

The Diocese of Harrisburg allowed Procopio to stay in ministry.

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.