Fr. Thomas Kerestus
Diocese of Allentown
Assigned as follows:
- 1969: Annunciation B.V.M. (Shenandoah, PA)
- 1969-1970: Regional Director, C.Y.O. (Schuylkill County)
- 1970: Boy Scout Chaplain
- 1970: St. Peter (Reading, PA)
- 1970-1971: Our Lady of Hungary (Northampton, PA)
- 1971-1974: Regional Director, C.Y.O. (Northampton County)
- 1974-1976: Sacred Heart (West Reading, PA)
- 1976-1977: St. Ambrose (Schuylkill Haven, PA)
- 1977-1982: St. Stephen of Hungary (Allentown, PA)
- 1982-1986: St. John Capistrano (Bethlehem, PA)
- 1986: Leave of Absence
- 1986-1990: Sacred Heart (Allentown, PA)
- 1990-1993: Chaplain, Sacred Heart Hospital (Allentown, PA)
- 1993-2002: Holy Family Villa – in residence
- 2002: Retired
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Fr. Thomas Kerestus:
Fr. Thomas Kerestus was ordained a priest in 1969, who served in multiple parishes in the Diocese of Allentown. According to media reports, in 2018, he was first named publicly as accused in the PA Grand Jury report. It noted that multiple parishioners of the St. John Capistrano parish in Bethlehem wrote to the Diocese of Allentown between 1985 and 1986 to complain of a seemingly-inappropriate relationship between Thomas Kerestus and a 16-year-old boy in the parish.
The boy often stayed at the rectory overnight, accompanied Kerestus on vacations around the country, and received extravagant gifts from the priest, including a car that the parish council bought for Kerestus to use but which he appropriated for the boy. Kerestus later admitted to touching the boy sexually after confronted with the allegation in inpatient treatment for sexual misconduct in New Mexico. Presumably this was the reason for the leave of absence noted in his assignment history by the grand jury.
In 1992, a second victim reportedly approached the Diocese of Allentown through a parish priest to report that he was abused by Kerestus over a five year period. He was 18 at the time of the report. Instead of taking action, the Diocese of Allentown focused on the boy’s troubled and violent past, using it to discredit his allegations. Kerestus continued in ministry unrestricted.
In 2005, a mental health professional reportedly conducted an extensive evaluation of Kerestus, though the reason for such an evaluation was unclear. Was there a new allegation? He informed the Diocese of Allentown that, in his opinion, Keresuts “does not take full accountability for his offense behaviors. He shows little contrition for his actions. Test results suggest he has attributes and behaviors very highly similar to those of known sex offenders and the condition of sexual deviance may be a component of his personality makeup.” He added, the “degree of risk for sexual re-offense was estimated to be in the moderate-high range.”
Kerestus remained a retired priest of the Diocese of Allentown until his death in 2014.
In 2016, yet another man reported to the Diocese of Allentown that he was sexually abused by Kerestus. He was 15 years old and a student at Holy Name High School when the abuse began.
Kerestus’ name was included on the Diocese of Allentown 2018 list of clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse.
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.