Fr. Francis Bach – Diocese of Harrisburg
Relieved of youth related duties: 1967
Removed from priesthood (laicized): 2007
Assigned as follows:
- 1962-1964 St. Theresa (Cumberland, PA)
- 1964-1965 St. Patrick (York,PA)
- 1965-1970 St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Harrisburg, PA)
- 1970 St. Joseph (Danville, PA)
- 1970 Boy Scout Chaplain (appointed)
- 1970 Coordinator, Family Life Apostolate (Diocese HQ)
- 1971-1975 Campus Minister, Millersville University
- 1974-1975 St. Joan of Arc (Hershey, PA)
- 1975-1976 St. Rose of Lima (York, PA)
- 1976 Leave of Absence
- 1976-1977 Annunciation BVM (McSherrystown, PA)
- 1977-1980 Holy Family (Harrisburg, PA)
- 1980-1983 Assumption BVM (Lebanon, PA)
- 1983-1994 Assumption BVM/Our Lady of Fatima Mission (Lebanon, PA)
- 1994 Resigned/retired
Summary of Allegations against Fr. Francis Bach:
Much of the information about the allegations against Fr. Francis Bach come from the 2007 laicization petition submitted by the Diocese of Harrisburg to the Vatican, seeking Bach’s removal from the priesthood. In such a petition, the Diocese sets forth all the reasons that a priest should be returned to the lay state similar to the way a prosecutor would set forth facts supporting an indictment of a criminal defendant.
According to the the petition, the Diocese of Harrisburg received a 1994 report of abuse by a man who said that Bach abused him as a 13 year old boy in 1969. Bach invited the boy to his boat in Maryland. In the middle of the night, the boy awoke to Bach fondling his penis, and that it progressed to oral sex and taking photographs of the boy while he was naked. Bach neither admitted nor denied the incident when confronted by Diocese officials; instead, he admitted that there were multiple incidents of similar behavior. He agreed to retire from active ministry in light of the scandal that could come to the Church if he continued in ministry.
Following his removal from ministry, Bach was sent to Villa St. John Vianney, a notorious pedophile priest treatment center in Downington, Pennsylvania. During his evaluation, he admitted to abusing at least 14 boys aged 14-16 during his priesthood.
In 2002, the Diocese of Harrisburg received a new report from a man who was also abused on Bach’s boat in Maryland and at the Cathedral in Harrisburg during the 1970s.
In 2007, another man contacted the Diocese of Harrisburg, who reported multiple instances of sexual abuse by Bach. At the time, the man was 12. No details were provided by the grand jury as to the date or Bach’s parish assignment during the time. The incidents with this boy occurred at a motel and included sodomy of the child. He was later abused on Bach’s boat as well.
In 2009, yet another man reported his sexual abuse by Bach to the Diocese of Harrisburg. He reported that he too was taken to a motel on multiple occasions and sexual assaulted by Bach, including sodomy. Reportedly, when confronted with this particular allegation, Bach responded that he could not remember the incidents but, “with my history, anything is possible. I’m not saying he is fabricating the story.” Bach’s assignment at the time of the abuse was not provided by the grand jury.
In 2016, another many contacted the Diocese of Harrisburg to report being abused in 1960 as an 8-year-old altar boy at St. Patrick in York, Pennsylvania.
According to the grand jury report and several victims of Fr. Joseph Pease, Bach and Pease owned a boat together and often used it to abuse boys. The two were also know to “share” victims.
According to the 2007 laicization petition, the Diocese of Harrisburg did not want the matter to be subject to a Canonical trial because it could bring scandal to the Church if the allegations were aired. Bishop Rhodes wrote, “…the true reason Francis Bach left all priestly ministry is unknown to others. If his case is now brought to trial or given any kind of publicity, I fear it will cause scandal to many, as he is still a priest who is beloved by many in our diocese.” The Vatican agreed and Bach was eventually laicized quietly.
While the petition does not mention any incidents during these time periods, there are multiple red flags in Bach’s assignment history that suggest, in our experience, that the Diocese of Harrisburg was aware of allegations against Bach well before 1994. In 1967, he was relieved of all duties relating to Youth Ministry, which is certainly unusual unless there was concern about his interaction with the children he encountered. Moreover, he has an unexplained leave of absence in 1976 that does not appear to be for any type of educational or professional development. In our experience, the length and abruptness of the leave certainly suggest that it may have been related to allegations of abuse. Of course, these issues would be examined more closely in litigation to determine the reason for these maneuvers with certainty.
Bach died in 2010.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Harrisburg and throughout Pennsylvania. The Diocese of Harrisburg filed for federal bankruptcy protection in February 2020. Anyone sexually abused by a priest or employee of the Diocese of Harrisburg may be entitled to file a claim against the Diocese in these bankruptcy proceedings, but very strict filing deadlines apply. Most victims of abuse in the Diocese of Harrisburg will never be able to take action against the Diocese of Harrisburg if they miss this bankruptcy filing deadline, so it is important that you contact us immediately to discuss your potential case.