Catholic Priest

John Bostwick

Diocese: Diocese of Harrisburg

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

In December 1989, Bishop Walter Sullivan, of the Diocese of Richmond, wrote a letter to the Diocese of Harrisburg Chancery Office regarding Father John Bostwick. Sullivan learned that Bostwick was staying in Harrisburg at St. Catherine Laboure church. Bostwick did not have permission to minister in the Diocese of Harrisburg because he did not cooperate with the Bishop of Richmond’s efforts to have Bostwick receive proper counseling. The Diocese did not suspend him; however, the Diocese did not give him any assignments.   In 1990, Bostwick officially received permission to minister outside of the Diocese of Richmond.

In March 1996, Father Paul Helwig and Monsignor Hugh Overbaugh wrote a memorandum to Bishop Nicholas Dattilo regarding an accusation made against Bostwick concerning the 1980 to 1982 time period.  Bostwick befriended a family and eventually stayed overnight at their house. The family had a boy between 12 and 14 years of age. The boy drank beer with Bostwick and Bostwick fondled the boy’s genitals.  Bostwick took the boy to St. Mary’s Seminary when school was out of session.  Bostwick fondled the boy’s genitals while the boy was sleeping overnight. The last incident involved Bostwick attempting to have the boy touch Bostwick’s genitals.  The boy became scared and locked himself in a room.  The boy remembered Bostwick becoming emotional, falling to the floor crying and apologizing to the boy.   Bostwick expressed his regret.   In 1997, Sullivan authored a report that provided that Dattilo informed Sullivan that Bostwick was not welcomed back in the Diocese of Harrisburg. The Diocese of Harrisburg issued a public statement regarding Bostwick in the newspaper.

According to Diocesan documents, another man contacted the Diocese to make a report of abuse.  During the summer of 1987, the man was between 14 and 15 years old and went to Bostwick’s home in Virginia.  Bostwick attempted to “make genital contact with him” but did not persist when the then-boy rejected his attempt.

In 2002, the same victim made the same report to the Diocese of Harrisburg regarding an attempt at inappropriate touching that occurred in 1987 when he was between 14 and 15 years old.  He stated he passed out from drinking alcohol while he watched a movie with Bostwick. He woke up in another room when Bostwick reached for his genitals and he stopped Bostwick from making contact.

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.