Father Leo Burchianti
Diocese of Pittsburgh
Assigned as Follows:
- 5/27/1964-8/21/1966: St. Joseph (Natrona, PA)
- 8/22/1966-6/09/1968: Immaculate Conception (Bloomfield, PA)
- 6/10/1968-5/21/1973: Our Lady of Grace (Scott Township, PA)
- 5/22/1973-1/24/1979: St. James (Sewickley, PA)
- 1/25/1979-11/21/1980: St. Philip Neri (Donora, PA)
- 11/22/1980-2/12/1981: Leave of Absence, health reasons
- 2/13/1981-12/03/1981: St. Rosalia (Greenfield, PA)
- 12/04/1981-4/12/1993: St. Joseph (West Aliquippa, PA)
- 4/12/1993-1/30/1995: Leave of Absence, health reasons/administrative
- 1/30/1995: Retired
- 1/31/2003: Withdrew from ministry
Summary of Allegations Against Father Leo Burchianti:
Fr. Leo Burchianti was ordained a priest in 1964, who served in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. According to media reports, According to documents subpoenaed from the Diocese of Pittsburgh and a 2012 memorandum, Fr. Leo Burchianti is alleged to have abused 8 young boys. He would give them alcohol, let them use drugs in the rectory, invite them to stay in his bed overnight, touch them inappropriately, make suggestive comments, and have anal and oral sex with them.
In an instance that occurred during the early months of 1979, a victim described being asked to go over to Burchianti’s house alone. While he was there, Burchianti gave him alcohol and said, “he gets very horny after one beer.” He went on to imply that since the victim was not with his girlfriend, he should “love the one he was with.” The victim said that at this point, Father Leo Burchianti dimmed the lights, but a fuse blew and the victim used this as his chance to escape. He said he thought Burchianti was going to try to kiss him.
Also in 1979, this time during the summer, another victim described inappropriate advances by Burchianti. Burchianti allegedly gave him alcohol and told him he “wanted to rape” the boy, who was a minor at the time. In addition, Burchianti tried to follow the victim into the bathroom and put his hand under the elastic of his shorts. When the victim told him not to tickle him, Burchianti said: “I’m not trying to tickle you, I’m trying to grab for something.”
Another minor boy, who was having personal issues at the time, was told to talk to his parish priest in January 1980. The parish priest was Father Leo Burchianti. He agreed to talk to Burchianti and stay the night with him in the rectory. During this encounter, Burchianti pointed to a photo of a teenage boy that he kept in the rectory and said to this victim, “You see that young boy, he is making $20.00 to $25.00 a hit and you could be too.” He also said they could watch pornographic films, grabbed the victims genitals when he was in bed, tried to get in bed with the victim, and asked him in the morning if Burchianti making love to him would help. After being touched in the genital area, the boy hit Burchianti and the priest told him not to tell his mother. When he asked if making love to him would him, the victim twisted his arm and told him never to try these things again.
Another victim said that Father Leo Burchianti offered him alcohol and made lewd comments toward him in 1979/1980. The comments including saying he wanted to rape him, that he was his secret admirer, and offering to watch pornographic films with the victim. Burchianti allegedly stated that he preferred watching the pornographic films focused on men rather than women. Other allegations against Burchianti include kissing and groping a 12-year-old boy in the 1980s and telling a boy in 1977 that they should go to bed together.
On October 26th, 1980, Burchianti admitted to all of these instances excluding situations that involved any sort of abuse.
Two major cases against Burchianti were based on allegations by victims that were referred to as John Doe 1 and John Doe 2. John Doe 1 was 30 years old in 1990 when he confronted Burchianti at his house about the abuse that had occurred in 1974 when John Doe 1 was 14 and Burchianti was assigned to St. Joseph. The abuse involved giving and receiving oral sex from the victim. Burchianti told John Doe 1 he was participating in therapy for his “problem.”
John Doe 2 said that from ages 13 or 14 to age 21, he had oral and anal sex with Burchianti. The abuse occurred hundreds of times when Burchianti was assigned to St. Philip’s and 20-30 times when he was at St. Joseph. He discussed this problem with members of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, then -Father David Zubik and Father Robert Guay, in 1993. Burchianti resigned from his assignment at St. Joseph, asked for a leave of absence for health reasons, and was admitted to St. Francis Hospital and then St. Michael’s for assessment after admitting to Zubik and Guay that he had abused John Doe 2. In 1994, a $15,000 settlement was arranged between the Diocese of Pittsburgh and John Doe 2.
Though Father Leo Burchianti requested reassignment from the Diocese of Pittsburgh, he was denied. He then requested early retirement in 1994, which was granted.
In 2007, John Doe 1 found Rita Flaherty, Diocesan Assistance Coordinator. He told her about the abuse he suffered at the hands of Leo Burchianti and added that he, Father Bob Castelucci, and Father Rudy Smoley would bring boys to the seminary pool and brag about which boys they brought. In September of 2007, Burchianti admitted to having relations with both John Doe 1 and his mother. The relations with the boy’s mother laster 6 to 8 months. In 2008, the Diocese of Pittsburgh reached a $25,000 settlement with John Doe 2.
Burchianti was evaluated at St. Luke’s Institute and St. Michael’s Institute, both notorious treatment facilities for pedophile priests, for “inappropriate relationships with male minors.” These psych evaluations took place in 1989, 1993, and 2012.
Burchianti died in 2013. He was included in a 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report following an investigation into six of the eight Catholic Pennsylvania Dioceses: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton.
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.