Samuel B. Slocum
Diocese: Diocese of Erie
From the Report I of the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:
Father Samuel B. Slocum testified before the Grand Jury on September 14, 2017, detailing his days as a priest in the Diocese of Erie. In 2012, a jury found him guilty of the crimes of concealment of the whereabouts of a child and corruption of minors.
Slocum testified that in 1980 he had been reported to Monsignor Heberlein by a fellow priest for an alleged inappropriate relationship with a fourteen-year-old girl. Slocum testified that Heberlein and then-Bishop Michael Murphy knew about his relationship with the young girl, but did nothing about it. In this same year, Slocum also recalled having a relationship with a sixteen-year-old boy. He testified that he would not call his relationships with these children inappropriate. He said that he did get some sort of emotional or sexual gratification from relationships with children, however. Slocum testified that while he never touched the girl, he did engage in physical wrestling, tickling and touching of the young boy. Slocum befriended his intended victims by gaining the trust of their parents and then engaging the children in inappropriate relationships or what is now known as “grooming”. Slocum engaged in grooming behavior with four children before he was finally arrested.
When Slocum described his relationships with fourteen-year-old Victim #1 and seventeen-year-old Victim #2, he testified to the Grand Jury that these girls were in love with him and wrote him love letters. When questioned about groping Victim #2’s buttocks and upper thigh, Slocum summed up the touching as accidental in nature. He informed the Grand Jury that to escape the accusation by Victim #2, he enlisted the assistance of a third party to apply pressure to Victim #2 and have her recant her accusation against him. Slocum testified that he had this mutual friend talk to Victim #2’s family because, “I felt like I was saving my neck, to be honest.”
Slocum added that he and Victim #2’s family remain friendly to this day and exchange Christmas cards. Diocesan records showed that Bishop Trautman and the Diocese opened an investigation into the Victim #2 groping incident and quickly closed it in less than two days. Trautman’s handwritten notes in the Slocum–Victim #2 file reads, “Sam Slocum – Denied Categorically All Aspects.”
Slocum testified in the Grand Jury about Victim #3’s case, the fifteen-year-old victim for whom Slocum was eventually convicted of felony and misdemeanor charges relating to grooming behavior. Slocum admitted to buying the friendship of Victim #3 and others with gifts and allowing them to stay at his residence in the rectory, even when their parents forbid it. Slocum taught Victim #3 how to hide their communications on social media by deleting text and photographs. Some of the texts that Slocum sent to Victim #3 would later be used against him in court and are sexually suggestive in nature. Slocum texted Victim #3, “I always knew there was something special about you, but I never knew what it was, Majic,” and, “I’m trying not to say bad stuff but your [sic] pushing it.”
In Victim #3’s case, Slocum bought him items from Abercrombie and Fitch and would later make Victim #3 negotiate to get them. In one text exchange, Slocum informed Victim #3 that a package has arrived. When Victim #3 texted back asking what it was, Slocum responded that the Abercrombie and Fitch package is now in. Slocum texted, “It’s in my bedroom, it came from the post office today. You can start negotiations anytime…” Slocum claimed that Victim #3 memorized his credit card number and made the purchases himself. Slocum asserted that he never reported this theft to law enforcement or the boy’s parents because he did not want to get the boy in trouble. It also came out in court proceedings that Slocum hid the whereabouts of Victim #3 from his parents and coached Victim #3 to lie to his parents.
This behavior that Slocum exhibited in the aforementioned cases was again apparent in 1995 when the Diocese became aware of another target of Slocum’s grooming. This incident was addressed in a letter dated May 10, 1995, from Monsignor Charles Kaza to Bishop Trautman. In that letter, Kaza outlines Slocum’s “unhealthy relationship” with a high school senior. The letter described how Slocum worked late hours with this student outside the school grounds, offered the student cash, and invited him to drink beer. This report came from the student’s own mother to Monsignor Kaza at great risk to her employment. This mother was, at the time, a teacher employed by the Diocese. The letter went on to describe how the victim felt uncomfortable with the level of Slocum’s closeness and that Slocum routinely violated his personal space. Slocum denied any physical sexual contact with this student, but admitted that the relationship certainly filled a void in his life.
In an attempt to get Slocum help for his inappropriate behavior toward children, the Diocese sent him to psychotherapy on two occasions. His first stint in therapy occurred in 1991 at the Diocese’s own treatment facility in Erie called the Ecclesiastic Center. There Slocum received treatment that the Diocese called “Growth Counseling,” along with fellow accused pedophiles Rev. Thomas Smith and Rev. Gary Ketchum. Slocum’s second stint at psychotherapy occurred in 1995 at the St. Michael Center in St. Louis, Missouri, which is an inpatient facility. Slocum was sent there eight days after the Monsignor Kaza letter to Trautman was sent regarding the student discussed above. Upon his discharge from the St. Michael Treatment Center in January of 1997, Slocum was placed back into ministry, where he remained until 2011. In 2011, the allegations that led to Slocum’s eventual arrest surfaced and the Diocese placed him on suspension until he was laicized by Rome and removed from ministry.
Slocum’s canon law case and Slocum’s conviction were documented in what the Catholic Church called “The Acts of the Case” or “The Acts of Slocum.” In the documents provided to the Grand Jury, nowhere was it found that Trautman informed his superiors in Rome that Slocum had a history dating back to 1980 involving four other victims. Slocum’s dismissal from ministry was based solely on his criminal arrest and the incidents involving Victim #3. Additionally, no evidence was ever found that the Diocese of Erie had ever notified law enforcement of Slocum’s predatory behavior, nor was there any evidence found that the Diocese notified law enforcement at the time of the Victim #3 investigation that Slocum had a predatory history that dated back 30 years.
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.