Father John Sweeney
Diocese of Greensburg
Assigned as follows:
- 1970 -1975: Holy family (Latrobe, PA)
- 1975 – 1980: Blessed Sacrament Cathedral (Greensburg, PA)
- 1980 – 1982: St. Hedwig (Smock, PA)
- 1982 – 1985: St. Mary (Freeport, PA)
- 1985 – 1998: St. Margaret Mary (Lower Burrell, PA)
- 1998 – 2008: St. James (Apollo, PA)
- 2008 – 2016: Holy family (West Newton, PA)
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Fr. John Thomas Sweeney:
Fr. John T. Sweeney was ordained a priest in 1970, who served in multiple parishes in the Diocese of Greensburg. According to media reports, in 2016, Child Services sent an anonymous allegation to the Diocese of Greensburg against Father Sweeney claiming he had sexually abused a ten-year-old boy during his assignment at St. Margaret Mary at the time of 1991/1992. That same year, the Diocese received another claim of Father Sweeney’s alleged sexual abuse, from a man claiming the Father had sexually abused his brother while he attended St. Margaret Mary. According to court reports, both claims against Sweeney involved the same victim.
The allegations led to Sweeney’s arrest in 2017, as this was one of the rare cases when the statute of limitations for prosecution had not yet expired.
According to victim testimony, the abuse occurred during the boy’s fourth-grade year at the school. He says the principal of the school sent the ten-year-old to Sweeney’s office for punishment in regards to the victim’s misbehavior on the school bus. Sweeney exploited the opportunity to give the victim an ultimatum: either perform oral sex on the Father or receive punishment. The victim complied with Sweeney’s request. Afterward, Sweeney had the church secretary bring the boy milk and cookies.
Sweeney was arrested and charged with deviate sexual intercourse. In August 2017, he pled guilty to indecent assault on a minor under 14 years old, a first degree misdemeanor.
n August 2018, he was named publicly as accused in the PA Grand Jury report.
In December 2018, he was sentenced to 11.5 months to five years in state prison, the maximum sentence allowable under the law. At his sentencing, Sweeney admitted his crime and apologized to the victim’s family, who were in attendance as the victim is on active duty in the military. A former judge and state senator, James Kelley, asked the judge not to send the priest to prison, calling him “the perfect priest.”
Sweeney is now registered as a sex offender in Pennsylvania and resides in Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania according to public records.
The Diocese of Greensburg has stated publicly that it has begun the process to have Sweeney laicized (removed from the priesthood).
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Greensburg. 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 Greensburg may have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so do not delay in reaching out to us.