Diocese: Diocese of Harrisburg
From Report I of the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:
The Diocese of Harrisburg received a report in 2004 from a female alleging that a priest sexually abused her around 1979. Diocese of Harrisburg Chancellor Carol Houghton interviewed the victim and generated interview notes. The victim was between nine and ten years old and a student at St. Joan of Arc in Hershey. She was not doing well with math and the Principal, assigned Father Timothy Sperber to tutor her. Sperber was part of the parish, but not the school.
Chancellor Houghton’s interview notes also provided that the victim went to the rectory and met Sperber in a room she identified as having lots of books. Sperber rubbed her hand. Sperger progressed to having the victim remove her shirt. He looked at her breasts and fondled them. He made her turn around, with her shirt up, so she had her back to him. He touched her bare back with things she believed to be his finger and/or penis. She heard him make noise and then she believed he ejaculated on her back. She remembered having to sit all day at school with the stickiness of something on her back.
The interview notes also established that she begged her mother to remove her from St. Joan of Arc School. When the new school year began, she tried her best to improve at math. The principal told her she had to tutor with Sperber again. The victim told the principal that Sperber touched her in weird ways. The Principal became angry with the victim. The victim continued telling her that Sperber made her remove her shirt. The principal scolded the victim and stated, “How dare you make these terrible accusations. You are a demon-child.” The Principal made the victim’s mother pick her up from school immediately. The victim was placed in public school. When the victim tried to talk with her mother, her mother replied, “We’re not going to talk about this. I don’t want anyone thinking that this was our fault.”
Sperber transferred to the Archdiocese of Miami in 1992; however, he was still considered a priest in the Diocese of Harrisburg. Bishop Nicholas Dattilo wrote the Archbishop of Miami that Sperber has permission to seek ministry in Miami due to his sick mother. On September 4, 2000, Sperber wrote a letter to Dattilo, which stated he did not intend to return to active ministry. Dattilo suspended Sperber in October of 2000.
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.