Father James Mihalak
Diocese of Allentown
Removed from ministry: 1997
Assigned as follows:
- 1976-1978: Assignments not published in Official Catholic Directory
- 1979: Pius X High School (Roseto, PA)
- 1980-1982: Whereabouts unknown (not listed in Official Catholic Directory)
- 1983-1984: St. Roch (West Bangor, PA)
- 1984-1987: St. Stanislaus (Shenandoah, PA)
- 1987-1988: St. Ann (Frackville, PA)
- 1988-1997: Mary, Queen of Peace (Pottsville, PA)
- 1998: Not listed in Official Catholic Directory
- 1999-2002: Holy Family Villa residence (Bethlehem, PA)
- 2003: Unknown
- 2004-present: Retired
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Fr. James Mihalak:
Fr. James Mihalak was ordained a priest in 1976, who served in multiple parishes in the Diocese of Allentown. Mihalak’s assignment in the Diocese of Allentown is not listed in the 1976-1978, 1980-1982, and 1998 Official Catholic Directories, nor is any information about his personnel file publicly available. In our experience, these are “red flags” that Mihalak may have been undergoing some type of inpatient treatment or evaluation relating to allegations of misconduct. While we cannot say that with certainty without having seen his personnel file and interviewed witnesses, it certainly is a subject that would be explored in far greater detail were a lawsuit ever to be filed against the Diocese of Allentown.
According to media reports, Mihalak was arrested in July 1997 for indecent assault of a 17-year-old boy he met at Cressona Mall in North Manheim Township. According to the victim, he was a hitchhiker that Mihalak picked up and fondled as they drove to their destination. The boy began to cry so Mihalak stopped the car and allowed him the boy to get out.
According to media reports, Mihalak was removed from ministry as soon as the Diocese of Allentown became aware of the allegations, but no one at the Diocese seemed to know precisely when that was, when asked by reporters. Publicly, the Diocese of Allentown said this was the first report of misconduct it had received regarding Mihalak. Notably, he was replaced in his assignment at Mary, Queen of Peace, by Fr. Bernard Flanagan, who is himself has been credibly accused of sexual abuse.
Mihalak pled guilty and was given two years’ supervised probation. During that time, he is believed to have been residing at Holy Family Villa for Priests in Bethlehem. As of 2004, according to media reports, the Diocese of Allentown did not know Mihalak’s location.
His name was included on Diocese of Allentown 2018 list of clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse. It noted he was the subject of an involuntary laicization petition to the Vatican that was denied. He is believed to be residing in the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, area.
Based upon our experience, we believe that Mihalak has a long trail of victims prior to his arrest in 1997. To be so bold as to pick up a hitchhiker, abuse him, and then leave him by the side of the road suggests a lack of fear that would likely come only from getting away with similar behavior for years, if not decades. If you have been hurt by Mihalak, please know that you are not alone. We are here to help.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Allentown. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Pennsylvania, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Allentown may have legal options against the Diocese of Allentown.