Fr. John Bostwick – Diocese of Harrisburg

| Nov 13, 2018 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Fr. John R. Bostwick, III – Diocese of Harrisburg

Ordained: 1969 (Archdiocese of Baltimore)

Arrived in Harrisburg Diocese: 1976

Transferred out of Harrisburg Diocese: 1992


Assigned in Harrisburg Diocese as follows:

  • 1976-1990        St. Catherine Laboure (Harrisburg, PA)
  • 1990-1991        St. Leo the Great (Lancaster, PA)
  • 1991-1992        Assumption BVM (Lebanon, PA)


Summary of Allegations Against Fr. John Bostwick:

Bostwick was ordained for the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 1969. He began doing weekend and holiday supply work in the Diocese of Harrisburg, with the permission of the Diocese (referred to as “faculties to minister”) in 1976.

Notably, Bostwick was also working in the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, and eventually, the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana.  That he was working for so many different bishops during his tenure but not in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, is certainly a red flag that there was ample evidence to suggest he was accused of harming parishioners.  Of course, we cannot say that with certainty until we have seen his personnel file, but our experience tells us there was certainly something very unusual going on.

According to the 2018 grand jury report, the Diocese of Harrisburg was made aware of an allegation of abuse by Bostwick in 1989, when the Bishop of Richmond (Virginia) wrote to the Bishop of Harrisburg to inform him that Bostwick was living in working at St. Catherine Laboure church.  Shockingly, the Diocese of Harrisburg did not know that – Bostwick did not have Richmond’s permission to work in Harrisburg (or anywhere) because he refused to go to counseling ordered by the Bishop of Richmond. While the grand jury report does not specify the reason for the counseling, it certainly suggests that there may have been allegations of abuse in Richmond.  It was not until the following year (1990) that Bostwick was given permission by the Bishop of Richmond to function as a priest.

In 1996, after Bostwick had departed from Harrisburg, the Bishop of Harrisburg was informed by two of his priests that Bostwick was the subject of an allegation of abuse in the Diocese of Harrisburg.  According to the grand jury report, the abuse involved a 12-14 year old boy and occurred from 1980-1982. The boy alleged that Bostwick plied him with beer and fondled him while he was intoxicated. Similar incidents also occurred at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.  When the boy objected to the contact during the final incident, Bostwick apparently became visibly upset and expressed his regret for his misconduct.

A second man later made similar accusations against Bostwick.  He alleged that Bostwick assaulted him at Bostwick’s home in Virginia when he was approximately 14 by touching his penis.  The incident occurred in the summer of 1987. The man came forward a second time in 2002 and confirmed that he too was plied with alcohol at the time of the abuse.

According to the Diocese of Harrisburg, Bostwick is still living.  His current whereabouts are unknown. He was last known to be working in the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, but may have returned to Pennsylvania. He is now 77 years old.

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.   .

Contact us at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your legal options today