Catholic Priest

William B. Yockey

Diocese: Diocese of Pittsburgh

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

Located in the files of the Diocese of Pittsburgh for Father William B. Yockey was a handwritten letter dated May 27, 1991 by Father Robert Guay. In part, the letter stated,

“In May of 1991, a gentlemen, age 25, came to one of our diocesan priests and alleged that he had been sexually molested by Yockey at the age of 16.  This same gentleman also indicated that a friend of his had also been sexually molested by Yockey at the age of 18.  A meeting was arranged with these two gentlemen regarding their allegations with diocesan officials.  The gentlemen indicated they had gotten to know Yockey during his first parish assignment when they were in 6th or 7th grade. They became friends with Yockey, going to movies and shooting the breeze with him in his room at the parish. After a year, Yockey was transferred to a new parish assignment and the friendship would continue. Yockey would often take (them) to his cabin outside the city to go fishing.  They indicated that Yockey would always allow them to drink beer. One of the gentlemen would spend an overnight or weekends at Father Yockey’s new assignment.  On one occasion [one gentleman] indicated that Yockey sexually molested him in October of 1981. The pair had returned to the rectory following a Halloween party.  Both had been drinking. [The first victim] was a junior in High School, age 16.   [The first victim] told us he “crashed out” following the party after drinking too much.  He fell asleep on the couch in Yockey’s den.  Yockey went to his own bedroom.  At some point the victim fell off the couch and found Yockey fondling his genitals. Yockey then got on top of the victim and tried to kiss him.  . . Another gentleman said a similar thing happened to him at another parish assignment in 1983.  The [second victim] was 18 years of age at the time.  Once again alcohol was involved by both Father Yockey and [the second victim].  The victim passed out and awoke to find Yockey feeling his genitals and attempting to kiss his genitals.  .  . When Yockey was confronted about these allegations on May 20, 1991, he acknowledged that the incident with the [first victim], age 16, was true. He also acknowledged that he, Yockey was drinking quite a lot during his first few years of ministry.  When asked about the allegations regarding [the second victim], age 18, Father Yockey does not recall anything, but he did note that they were probably drinking and that it was not impossible and won’t deny it, but he cannot remember it.  Yockey has been put on administrative leave from his assignment as chaplain to the County Jail.  He is not to celebrate sacraments or … publicly.  I trust this information is helpful to you in helping us discern what might be best for Father Yockey in the future.  I might add that Yockey told us that he was never involved with anyone else that he is aware of.”

On July 18, 1991, Yockey sent a letter of resignation to Bishop Donald Wuerl. A portion of the letter stated, “I have discussed my decision with Father Guay and he informed me that medical coverage and perhaps some salary would be available if I request it. I would appreciate it.”

On April 3, 2006, a letter was sent from Father James G. Young, Episcopal Vicar for Clergy to “whom it may concern.”  The letter stated:

“Enclosed is a questionnaire that you sent in regards to William B. Yockey who has applied for a position with the Veterans Administration.  William B. Yockey was a priest in the Diocese of Pittsburgh from May 1976 to August 1991, when he asked for and was granted a leave of absence for personal reasons. We have had no contact with him since that time and therefore are not able to provide any information for you.”

In this letter, there was no mention of Yockey’s admission to sexually molesting a minor, or of Yockey’s potential threat to prospective victims.

On July 10, 2009, a letter was received by Bishop Zubik from an individual who attended the Assumption in Bellevue.  A portion of the letter stated:

“Bishop Zubik, I was a victim of a sexual assault when I was in high school. Years later, a close friend shared a similar story involving the same priest.  At that time we contacted Father John Gallagher at Assumption Parish.  Father Gallagher set up a meeting with Father Guay and yourself. At some time in the near future, Bill Yockey was dismissed or left the priesthood.   I have never received a phone call or any contact from the Diocese concerning this matter.”

On August 7, 2009, a confidential memorandum was sent from Rita Flaherty, Diocesan Assistance Coordinator, to Zubik.  A portion of the letter read:

In preparation for your meeting with [the victim] on August 11, 2009 at 12:00 p.m., I share the following information. The [victim] called me on July 9, 2009 to say that he was an abuse victim of Father William Yockey.  He stated that he came forward in the early 1990’s when Father Bob Guay was in the Clergy Office.  Father John Gallagher initially notified our office about his allegation as [the victim] first talked with Father Gallagher about this.  The victim’s allegation against Yockey involved inappropriate sexual contact with [the victim and another individual].  At the time of the incident, [victim] was a senior in high school (age 18) but his friend was only 16. (Our confidential files confirms that both the victim and his friend, did indeed come to the diocese in 1991.) [Victim] stated that since he came forward, he has not asked anything of the diocese.  At this time, he is requesting some assistance with the tuition for his three children so they can continue with their Catholic education . . . Since my first contact with [victim], I have been working with Ron Bowes, Father Kris Stubna and Father Jim Young to see what help might be available to the victim’s children. I have included a letter that was sent out to the victim’s family on July 27, 2009 showing the original amount of aid that was offered along with a revised amount.  Father Young is also willing to offer an additional $2,000 in financial aid to the family as soon as he is able to figure out a confidential way to do this while at the same time, having a record for auditing purposes. Father Young planned to talk with either Fred O’Brien or Joe Luttringer about how best to accomplish this.”

In a letter from Zubik to the aforementioned victim, the Bishop wrote, “I have received your letter requesting tuition support for your three children and I will make sure that your request is taken care of.”  The Diocesan records contained records specifying certain payments to the victim.   One such document dated April 10, 2012, noted that a total of $10,065 was provided to three of the victim’s children for their Catholic education.  The money was taken from the “Catholic Charities Fund.”  A document dated June 12, 2012, indicated that a total of $12,690 was provided for the catholic education of two of the victim’s children.  The money was listed as “tuition assistance grants” for the 2012-2013 school year. A document dated June 6, 2013 listed that $7,860 was provided to two of the victim’s children from the Bishop’s Education Fund and Scholastic Opportunity Scholarship Fund.  The payment was listed under an “educational grant award” for the 2013-2014 school year. Additional payments were made to the victim for the 2014-2015, 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years that totaled $24,130.00.

On December 17, 2013, a letter was received by Bishop Waltersheid.  It was sent from an individual who stated that he was molested as a young boy by Yockey.  On December 20, 2013, a meeting took place with the victim at the Diocese office. During the meeting, the victim stated his father died when he was nine years old and his mother died the following year.  The victim was then raised by his maternal aunt, who lived in Wilkinsburg. The victim attended St. Bernadette in nearby Monroeville where Yockey was assigned from 1978 to 1983. While the boy attended the parish, Yockey began to molest him. The victim stated that Yockey performed oral sex on him in the rectory, in his [Yockey’s] car, and even at the home of his aunt.  During the meeting, the victim asked if there had been any other allegations made against Yockey. Waltersheid responded, “that there have been.”  The victim was offered counseling by the Diocese.

Although the Diocese had information regarding alleged criminal actions on the part of Yockey as far back as the year 1986, there was only one document located in their files that was dated January 6, 2014 that illustrated a report to the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office.   The document was dated January 6, 2014. There was no mention of the history of Yockey’s reported sexual assaults.

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.