Father John Fitzgerald
Diocese of Pittsburgh
Administrative leave: 2014-2017
Retired (voluntarily): 2017
Assigned as Follows:
- 1974-1977 – St. Thomas (Braddock, PA)
- 1974-1977 – St. Michael (Braddock, PA)
- 1977-1982 – St. Michael the Archangel (Butler, PA)
- 1982-1983 – St. Alexis (Wexford, PA)
- 1983-1988 – All Saints (Pittsburgh, PA)
- 1988-1989 – St. Anselm (Pittsburgh, PA)
- 1989-1991 – St. Teresa of Avila (Pittsburgh, PA)
- 1991-1995 – St. Anthony (Bessemer, PA)
- 1994-1996 – Chaplain, Pittsburgh International Airport
- 1995 – St. Lawrence (Hillsville, PA)
- 1995-1996 – St. John Neumann (Pittsburgh, PA)
- 1996-2009 – Chaplain, Pittsburgh International Airport
- 2009-2014 – Our Lady of Peace (Conway, PA)
Summary of Allegations Against Father John (Jack) Fitzgerald:
Father John (Jack) Fitzgerald was ordained a priest in 1974, who served in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. According to media reports, a victim came forward with allegations of sexual abuse against the priest in 2014. The victim, a family member of another parish priest, had been abused by Fitzgerald in 1996 while Fitzgerald resided at Holy Trinity parish and worked as a chaplain at the Pittsburgh International Airport.
According to the victim, who eventually met with the Chancery later that year, Father Fitzgerald took him to his airplane multiple times and groped his genitals. He also said that he made him give Fitzgerald oral sex approximately six times. The victim noted that Fitzgerald threatened to similarly sexually abuse the boy’s mother and sister if he told anyone. He underscored the threat by telling the child, “I know when your father isn’t at home.”
When confronted, Fitzgerald vehemently denied these allegations. He even told a Chancery official to tell the victim’s family “that they had one opportunity to recant their statements or else all hell would break loose, it will be like World War III.”
The victim did not testify during the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s internal review board investigation, but some of his family members did. Though the Diocesan Review Board believed that there was some truth to the allegations, they also found Fitzgerald’s denial of the abuse to be very convincing. Ultimately, the group recommended that the Bishop find that there was “some semblance of truth” to the allegations and not return Fitzgerald to ministry. According to the grand jury report, the Diocese began canonical proceedings against Fitzgerald.
According to the Diocese of Pittsburgh, “the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ruled that the allegation could neither be proven nor disproven…[so] Bishop Zubik and Father Fitzgerald agreed that the best course of action was for Father Fitzgerald to retire and no longer perform public ministry.” Fitzgerald has appealed his case to the Vatican courts and the internal proceedings remain pending. If he loses his appeal, he could be involuntarily laicized by the Vatican.
Fitzgerald was named publicly as accused in a priest profile in the 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report. He is believed to be residing in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. 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 Pittsburgh may have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so do not delay in reaching out to us.