John A. Genizer
Diocese: Diocese of Pittsburgh
From Report I of the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:
In a document dated July 7, 1995 and initialed “R.F.G.” (Father Robert F. Guay), it was noted that a telephone call had been received from Father William Lynn, Secretary for the Clergy of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It was reported that the son of a member of the Archdiocese had revealed that was fondled by Father John A. Genizer in 1980 when he was 13-years-old. Lynn advised that the son’s parents were very involved in the church and were reputable. He further stated that the parents did not want to make the information public.
Guay sent a letter to the family dated August 7, 1995 wherein he explained that in order for the Diocese of Pittsburgh to conduct an investigation, a statement or written allegation was necessary so that they had something documented to review with the priest involved.
In February, 2009, Geinzer wrote a letter to Bishop Zubik, asking for his endorsement to serve under the supervision of the Apostleship of the Holy See USA as a chaplain aboard a passenger cruise ship. In a confidential memorandum to the file dated March 24, 2009, the
Diocese reported that Father Bonner met with Geinzer to discuss his recent request. It was noted that Genizer needed the endorsement of the Bishop and that the Bishop would have to sign a document stating that Genizer; “Enjoys a good reputation and has no problems of a moral nature.” They then discussed the 1995 report of abuse. Genizer denied the allegation.
It was subsequently determined that because of the sexual allegation listed in his confidential file, Genizer would not be endorsed by the Bishop to serve as chaplain. Genizer was assured, however, that the allegation would not affect his current standing in the Diocese because the Diocese deemed it to be an “inconclusive allegation.”
In a confidential memorandum dated May 28, 2014, a telephone call from a woman was documented wherein she complained about Genizer’s conduct around her son. She stated that three years ealier, she and her family went to the Little Sisters of the Poor to visit her parents. Her son was eight-years-old at that time. While they were there, Genizer took her children to get candy. When they returned, she noticed that Genizer was showing a little too much interest in her son’s clothes and how her son looked. This made her son feel very uneasy. During their next visit, Genizer approached her son. He stated that “he looked so handsome” and touched the boy as he made this comment. She stated that her son broke into tears and told her that he did not want to talk to Genizer. The boy further stated, “I don’t want him touching me.” Finally, the woman revealed that on a more recent vistit to Little Sisters of the Poor, they attended mass. As they were leaving, Genizer approached another young boy who was approximately 13 years of age. She stated that Genizer began touching the boy and made comments about how he was dressed. The woman advised that she had just attended a “safe environment training” and thought that Genizer’s behavior towards young boys needed attention.
Another memorandum in the file dated May 30, 2014 revealed that a discussion of the allegations with Genizer occurred. Father Eckman told Genizer that he had received a complaint through Father Rushofsky that Genizer was making the boy uncomfortable by patting him on the back for prolonged periods of time, making comments about his clothes and focusing on the child in unusual ways. He also explained that Genizer had been observed exhibiting this same type of behavior with other young boys, but never with any of the girls. Genizer responded that he was unaware of his behavior and how it made others feel. He advised that he would make extra effort not to touch any minors.
After these specific allegations of unnatural interest in young boys were made and documented in his file, Diocesan officials continued to write and sign letters advising that Genizer was a priest in “good standing.” Specifically in a May 19, 2016 document entitled; “Testimonial of the Diocese of Pittsburgh of Suitability for Priestly Ministry” that was signed and initialed by Eckman, it was stated that not only was Genizer a priest in good standing, “[n]o accusations of misconduct have ever been made against him, nor has he ever been involved in any incident, to my knowledge, which has led to potential or public scandal.” The letter further stated; “To the best of my knowledge, he has never engaged in sexual behavior inconsistent with priestly celibacy, nor had he ever acted in an inappropriate manner with minors.”
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.