The Altoona Mirror
September 7, 2012
By Zach Geiger (firstname.lastname@example.org) ,
The Cambria County District Attorney’s office is investigating claims of sexual misconduct leveled against a priest suspended by the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown after several alleged victims went to authorities.
The DA’s office launched an investigation earlier this month after multiple individuals approached court officials with allegations of sexual misconduct involving the Rev. George D. Koharchik, Assistant District Attorney Beth Bolton Penna said.
“We have had [alleged] victims come forward,” Bolton Penna said, adding that at least two people have alleged Koharchik committed sexual misconduct.
An attempt to reach Koharchik for comment Thursday was unsuccessful.
Allegations of sexual misconduct involving minors first emerged against Koharchik in August when multiple individuals reported their claims to the diocese.
The diocese alerted the Cambria County DA’s office of the allegations, diocesan spokesman Tony DeGol said. But the people who contacted the DA’s office are separate from those who first reported allegations of misconduct to the diocese in August, Bolton Penna said.
“These people didn’t go to the diocese,” with their claims, Bolton Penna said.
A time frame of the alleged abuse was given to officials, and the DA’s office plans to examine the statue of limitations to determine if charges will be filed against Koharchik, she said.
No criminal charges have been filed against Koharchik as of Thursday evening, according to online court documents.
The alleged abuse occurred during Koharchik’s tenure as a priest in Cambria County when the alleged victims were minors.
Koharchik was formerly a priest at St. Clement Roman Catholic Church in Upper Yoder Township and at least one other parish in Cambria County, Assistant District Attorney Heath Long said.
Koharchik most recently served as head priest and administrator at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Mount Union. He was placed on a leave of absence by the diocese in August.
The Rev. Raymond G. Crosser, a senior priest with more than 50 years of active ministry in the church, was appointed to replace Koharchik as head administrator at St. Catherine of Siena, DeGol said.
“He will reside there during this period until a permanent replacement can be named,” DeGol said. “He’ll be a great source of stability for that parish during these coming weeks and months.”
Weekday Mass resumed at St. Catherine of Siena after Crosser volunteered to leave retirement and fill in, DeGol said.
Bishop Mark L. Bartchak was “adamant” to have the Mount Union parish continue as the diocese conducts its own internal investigation, DeGol said.
“Obviously, this is a difficult situation for the parish,” DeGol said.