Catholic Priest

Frederick Vaughn

Ordained: 1937
Diocese: Diocese of Harrisburg

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

The following information was obtained from the restricted file for Father Frederick Joseph Vaughn, born Frederick Joseph Von Hartensten, from the Diocese of Harrisburg.  On April 17, 2002, the Diocese received a letter from a woman who stated Vaughn molested both of her daughters from about 1961 to about 1966.  The abuse started when the daughters were approximately nine years old.  Vaughn fondled the girls’ genitals.

A Diocesan document provided that on July 15, 2002, the Diocese received a letter from different parents alleging one of their daughters was sexually abused by Vaughn from age three to age 13. The abuse occurred between 1961 and 1974. The abuse consisted of genital fondling, as well as vaginal and anal intercourse.  The parents’ other daughter was also sexually abused from age five to age 10.  Vaughn’s abuse consisted of genital fondling.  The abuse occurred between 1958 and 1963.

A Diocesan document provided that on July 26, 2004, the Diocese received a call from another female stating Vaughn abused her around 1958 when she was 11 or 12 years old.  She was in grade school at St. Catherine Laboure at the time.  She reported Vaughn pressed himself up against her body and fondled her from behind.  He held her tight to his body and rubbed up against her.

On August 30, 2004, a parent reported to the Diocese that Vaughn abused her daughter when she attended St. Catherine Laboure.  Vaughn was a constant guest at her home.  While at her home, the mother walked into a room and saw Vaughn with both his hands on her minor daughter’s breasts, over top of her clothing. Vaughn saw the mother and calmly put his coat on and left the home.  He continued to visit the family at their residence.  The mother never told her husband, nor Diocesan officials of the incident.  She reported this caused a rift between her and her daughter for years.

In May of 2012, a letter was sent to St. Catherine Laboure that stated Vaughn molested a female from 1959 to 1963.  Vaughn fondled the girl underneath her bathing suit while swimming in nearby Mermaid Lake.

In 2016, a witness and victim spoke with Diocesan officials about an allegation against another priest and about her own victimization. As an 11 year old girl, Vaughn visited her home to see her father.  If her father was not at home, Vaughn wrestled with her on the floor.  One time, she fought back and he whispered, “I like a fighter.”  Vaughn then moaned and made noises that scared her.  She refused to let him back in the home the next time he stopped over. She stated she witnessed Vaughn grab little girls as young as two years old and Vaughn bounced the girls on his lap. Vaughn fondled the girls’ breasts while doing this. The victim never spoke of the abuse.  The victim knew of another victim who was fondled while swimming with Vaughn.

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.