James P. Hopkins
Diocese: Diocese of Erie
From the Report I of the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:
On August 3, 1993, a victim wrote a letter to Bishop Trautman at the Diocese of Erie. She stated in the letter that in 1945, when she was 13 years of age, she experienced abuse at the hands of Monsignor Hopkins in the rectory of St. Titus. She stated that Hopkins would, “grab our face in his hands, force us to look up, and then plant a sloppy kiss on our mouths. He would also grab us and pull us close, wrap his cape around us, and fondle us wherever he pleased.” She further stated that she remembered the dinners held on the weekend of forty hours, at which the girls at the convent were invited to serve. She only served one time. Whenever anyone would voice concern over Hopkins’s behavior, she would always hear the conduct dismissed by others as, “Oh well, he’s old, he doesn’t mean anything by it.” The victim told the Bishop that she knows that there is no excuse for such behavior nor is there any excuse for those who see it and do nothing about it.
On August 23, 1993, Trautman received a letter from the Office of Clergy Personnel. This letter stated that the office reviewed Hopkins’s file, which included sacramental records, applications of various pastoral positions, health-related correspondence, pictures, press releases including that of his death in 1957, and one letter of complaint. The letter of complaint contained in this file related to an incident in the 1920s that did not involve any sort of physical abuse or assault.
On January 11, 1994, the victim wrote another letter to Trautman. She enclosed a copy of the first letter and asked the Bishop to please respond. On January 24, 1994, Trautman wrote to the victim, acknowledging her recent letter about the accusation against Hopkins. The Bishop wrote that “Since Monsignor Hopkins died in July of 1957, there is no possible way to investigate your accusation.”
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.