Catholic Priest

David H. Luck

Ordained: 1987
Diocese: Diocese of Harrisburg

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

Diocesan documents held in secret archives detailed the following information.  David Luck was a deacon at St. Paul the Apostle during 1986 and 1987. He was successfully ordained a priest in May of 1987.  In December of 1988, a family reported to their local priest that their two minor sons were molested by Luck. The local priest notified Bishop William Keeler. Luck, while a deacon, was close with the reporting family and often stayed overnight at the family’s home.  The abuse occurred during the overnight stays.

It was reported that Luck anally penetrated a 15 year old boy.  He fondled the genitals of the 15 year old boy and an 11 year old boy.  The Diocese sent Luck to St. Luke’s Institute in February 1989 for an evaluation. Luck sent a letter to seventh grade children at his local school telling them he could not wait to see them again.

Notes of St. Luke’s Institute’s evaluation of Luck were summarized on Office of Judicial Vicar letterhead in 1989.  St. Luke’s diagnosed Luck with Paraphilia, a sexual deviation.  Luck admitted to fantasizing about sex with boys, fondling and touching them, and performing mutual fellatio with them.  St. Luke’s recommended Luck not be in ministry around children or adolescents.  Luck began writing letters to other dioceses around the country asking to be allowed to minister.  Bishop Nicholas Dattilo was installed as the Bishop of Harrisburg in January of 1990.  Dattilo suspended Luck in May of 1990.

In October of 1990, [REDACTED] hand wrote a memorandum to Dattilo outlining a September meeting with Luck.  Luck stated, “I am a pedophile” to [REDACTED] and Father McGovern.  Luck was told not to have any contact with the victims, per Dattilo’s notes. Shortly thereafter, Luck approached one of the victims at a parish festival.

There is no evidence in Luck’s files, which were turned over by the Diocese of Harrisburg, that anyone from the Diocese called the police when Luck’s abuse was reported. There was a 1996 document, which discussed that the family of the victims went to the police (even naming the officer), and if the Diocese was contacted about Luck, they would cooperate. Luck was never criminally charged.

The Diocese of Harrisburg was contacted by a mental health agency where Luck applied for a job in 1996.  In a memorandum from Father Paul Helwig to Dattilo on July 15, 1996, Helwig noted he received a form from a mental health employment agency asking for a reference for Luck.  Helwig wrote that the Diocese “received a standard form, but instead of responding to the questions on the form, I wrote a letter and stated that, ‘Because of conduct unbefitting a minister of the Church, David was relieved of his duties and does not have authorization to present himself or work as a priest.’”

After many years of Canonical appeals, Luck was dispensed from priestly ministry in 2005.

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.