Grand Jury: Pittsburgh Priests Ran Child Porn Ring

The Allentown Morning Call reports:

George said he never discussed the nude Polaroids, or the twisted, secret gift he and the other kids had been given decades ago by the men who preyed on them. These weren’t the kinds of things you could share without feeling humiliated, especially not if you grew up tough, like he did on the South Side of Pittsburgh.

But you can’t outrun your nightmares forever. So on Dec. 17, a week before Roman Catholics around the world celebrated Christmas, George met with a Pennsylvania grand jury and told it about the Rev. George Zirwas, a friendly young priest who once took him to a rectory in Munhall, a borough about 25 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh, and introduced him to some friends: The Revs. Francis Pucci, Richard Zula, and Francis Luddy.

In the unnerving moments that followed, George claimed that Zula or Pucci began taking photos of him on a Polaroid camera. All of the priests giggled — and then added the photos of George to a collection of photos of other teen boys. According to the grand jury, these men and another priest, the Rev. Robert Wolk, were part of a “ring of predatory priests” who raped children, shared intelligence on potential victims and manufactured child pornography in parishes and rectories.

Penn Live reports:

The Rev. James Beeman, once a chaplain for the state prison at Camp Hill, was accused of raping a 7-year-old girl while visiting her in the hospital after she had her tonsils removed. Beeman raped her again when she was 13, the girl reported, and again when she was 19 and pregnant.

When a girl reported that Rev. Timothy Sperber made her remove her shirt while he was tutoring her in math at Saint Joan of Arc in Hershey around 1979, the school principal accused her of lying and being a “demon-child,” the grand jury reported.

The Rev. Frederick Vaughn was accused of molesting several young girls. In 2004, the mother of a victim reported that she had walked into a room and seen Vaughn fondling her daughter’s breasts over the child’s clothing. “Vaughn saw the mother and calmly put his coat on and left the home,” the grand jury noted.