Father Paul Spisak
Diocese of Pittsburgh
Assigned as follows:
- 5/22/1973-10/01/1978: St. Mary of the Mount (Pittsburgh, PA)
- 10/02/1978-10/05/1980: St. Benedict the Abbot (McMurray, PA)
- 10/06/1980-11/19/1981: Sacred Heart (Pittsburgh, PA)
- 11/20/1981-6/29/1990: St. Dominic (Donora, PA)
- 6/25/1988-6/29/1990: St. Charles (Donora, PA)
- 6/30/1990-2/07/1994: St. Philip (Pittsburgh, PA)
- 2/07/1994-2/12/1997: St. Andrew (Butler, PA)
- 2/16/1998-10/26/1998: St. Mary (Cecil, PA)
- 7/03/2000-7/11/2002: Chaplain Nursing Home (Allison Park, PA)
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Paul Spisak:
Father Paul Spisak was ordained a priest in 1973 who served in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. According to media reports, in October 1998, parish staff from St. Dominic reported they had found pornographic magazines, tapes and internet material in Spisak’s room that depicted homosexual and sadomasochistic activity. There were also several pictures of Spisak with two different underage boys including pictures of the boys showing their buttocks and pictures of Spisak pulling down his swim trunks and pulling down the boy’s pants. According to the staff, Spisak allegedly destroyed these pictures of the boys, who were estimated to be 15 years old.
Spisak wrote staff a note that month indicating that he would be going to St. Luke Institute for evaluation but wanted to reassure her that he “hadn’t done anything wrong in the past or in the present.” The secretary advised that Spisak had always shown a particular interest in her son and had taken him on vacation many years earlier. She stated that she felt uncomfortable about the attention he gave her son and that her son would often leave their house when Spisak was expected to arrive.
Father Paul Spisak was interviewed by the Diocese of Pittsburgh with respect to the pornography and pictures that were found. The records indicated that Spisak denied ever having any sexual contact with minors or adults but did admit that he had been struggling with the problem of viewing pornography for several years.
Further, he did admit to taking several young men of high school age on vacation with him during his time in Donora sometime between 1981 and 1990. When asked about the photographs that were seen by the parish housekeeper, Spisak stated they were taken years ago during these vacations and that the photographs were very innocent and “just for fun.”
The Diocese of Pittsburgh Expresses Concerns Over Spisak
In a letter from the Diocese of Pittsburgh to Wuerl pertaining to Spisak’ s evaluation the findings were recounted as follows:
- Spisak has both sexual and interpersonal issues that are significant enough to warrant residential treatment.
- Spisak was diagnosed as having a sexual disorder that is compulsive in nature and is currently manifested in his use of porn.
- Spisak shows a significant interest in grade school age males and his interest in one of the boys pictured in a photo found in the rectory began when the boy was in 7th or 8th grade.
In a letter from April 1999, a priest wrote to a Diocesan employee’s son and requested to meet with him to discuss disturbing information that his mother had provided to the church concerning a priest of the Diocese.
The priest stated in the letter, “I am sure revisiting these painful memories is not easy for you…I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to discuss this with your mother.”
After the meeting with the victim, a letter was sent to Wuerl regarding a meeting with Spisak at St. Luke:
“While Spisak has been vague about the extent of his past involvement with [the victim], he has been able to acknowledge the sexual motivation in this relationship. Spisak has also acknowledged a sexual attraction to minors as well as to adult men. Spisak will need to continue to develop both internal and external resources to control his emotional impulsivity and his tendency to isolate himself. Without such control, Spisak is at risk to act out his problematic behavior again(i.e. use of pornography, compulsive masturbation and possible sexual activity either with minors or adults).”
In July 1999, Spisak was assigned to the residence at St. Mary of Mercy to assist with certain duties in the care of the parish.
In July 2002, Spisak requested to withdraw from active priestly ministry for personal reasons.
On May 9, 2003, Wuerl sent a letter to Spisak prohibiting him from performing any public celebration of the sacraments or sacramental, from wearing clerical attire, presenting himself as a priest in good standing or as a representative of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Spisak is Arrested for Secretly Recording Men in Bathroom Stalls
In 2006, police responded to the South Hills Village Mall for a complaint in a first-floor men’s bathroom. A male reported while in the men’s bathroom stall, he observed a camera recording him from the rear corner of his stall. The camera was protruding through the opening of the stall and was being recorded by Spisak.
When initially approached by mall security, Spisak denied having a camera. Spisak then faked that he was ill and ran into the bathroom. A security guard followed Spisak and saw him flush the memory card from the camera down the toilet. Spisak pled guilty to a disorderly conduct charge and had to pay a $300.00 fine.
On April 26, 2017, Spisak arrived at the police station for further questioning and admitted to having the camera, recording the victim in the stall and then flushing the memory card. Spisak also admitted to police that he had a “sexual fixation with the male buttocks.”
Fr. Spisak Charged after Taking Photos of 13-Year-Old Boy in Bathroom Stall
In December 2021, Fr. Paul Spisak was charged with sexual abuse and invading the privacy of a 13-year-old boy when the priest was caught taking a video of the boy inside a bathroom stall at a Target in Pittsburgh.
According to reports, Fr. Spisak allegedly used his phone at an angle to take nude images of the boy in the stall. The boy’s father informed Target security, and when approached, Fr. Spisak denied the allegation and attempted to flee. However, the priest was taken into custody, where he admitted there were photos of the boy and images of another person using the bathroom in an undisclosed location.
Fr. Sispak faces preliminary hearing on December 22, 2021, and is being held in the Allegheny County Jail. Previously, Fr. Spisak lived at Saint John Vianney Manor, a residence for retired priests on the campus of Diocesan Pastoral Center.
Fr. Sispak died on January 30, 2022, two days after he was released from jail custody to the hospital.
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.