John P. Fitzgerald
Diocese: Diocese of Pittsburgh
From Report I of the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:
On March 10, 2014, a priest contacted the Diocese of Pittsburgh to advise that a male family member had been molested as a boy by Father John P. Fitzgerald in 1996 while Fitzgerald resided at Holy Trinity Church and was the Chaplain at the Pittsburgh International Airport. It was reported that on one occasion, Fitzgerald drove the boy to a hanger in New Castle where Fitzgerald’s airplane was kept. During the ride, Fitzgerald moved his arms to the beat of the music playing on the radio and then touched the boy’s genital area. On another occasion, while they were in Fitzgerald’s airplane, Fitzgerald touched the boy’s genital area and attempted to put his hand down the boy’s pants. The boy further reported that Fitzgerald exposed himself in the Pittsburgh International Airport chapel and also had the boy perform oral sex on him “maybe half a dozen times.” Fitzgerald instructed the boy not to tell anyone, warning that he would do the same thing to his mother and sister. Fitzgerald told him, “I know when your father isn’t at home.”
Fitzgerald denied the allegations. A memorandum of a telephone conversation with Fitzgerald from August 1, 2014 indicated the following:
“Today I received a phone call from Father Jack Fitzgerald. Father Fitzgerald stated that this would be the only time that I heard from him directly, that all other conversations would be done through his canonical advocate. Father Fitzgerald told me that he wanted me to communicate to [the male’s] family that they had one opportunity to recant their statement or else all hell would break loose, it will be like World War III. Then Father Fitzgerald hung up.”
On December 12, 2014, the Diocese held a Diocesan Review Board hearing relative to the allegations made against Fitzgerald. Their findings included the following:
“1. The Review Board did not completely accept the testimony of the family of (the victim). However, some of the board members believe the testimony at certain points was consistent with abuse and those members tend to believe that abuse had occurred.
2. There was a great deal of discrepancy in the facts between the family’s testimony and Father Fitzgerald’s.
3. This abuse could have occurred but there is some disagreement regarding how to interpret all of the testimony given.”
The following were the recommendations of the Diocesan Review Board:
“1. That the allegations brought forward by (the victim) demonstrate that a semblance of truth exists.
2. That Reverend John P. Fitzgerald not be returned to his assignment and that a further hearing of the case take place according to the norms of the document from the Holy See Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela.”
The current status of proceedings against Fitzgerald is unknown.
The Diocese paid for some of the counseling and drug treatment for the male in addition to providing the family with a $40,000 reimbursement for drug treatment expenses that were incurred prior to the report being made
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.