Fr. Robert E. Spangenberg – Diocese of Pittsburgh

| Dec 17, 2018 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Father Robert Spangenberg

Diocese of Pittsburgh

Ordained: 1974

Retired: 2003

Died: 2006

Assigned as follows:

  • 1974: Faculty, Holy Ghost Preparatory School, (Bensalem, PA)
  • N/A: Associate Pastor, St. Mary (Detroit, MI)
  • N/A – 1977: Associate Pastor, St. Anthony (Millvale, PA)
  • 1977 – 1979: Unknown ministry, North Carolina
  • 1979 – 1980: Assistant Pastor, St. Mary (Sharpsburg, PA)
  • 1980 – N/A: Chaplain, St. Francis de Sale High School (Chicago, IL)
  • 1982 – 1984: Pastor, St. Stanislaus (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • 1984 – 1989: Pastor, St. Anthony (Millvale, PA)
  • 1989 – 1990: Superior of the Congregation Retirement home (Sarasota, FL)
  • 1990 – 1993: Pastor, St. Patrick (Charleston, SC)
  • 1993 – N/A: Administrator, St. Peter Claver (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1994 – N/A: Pastor, St. James (Hamlet, NC)
  • 1997 – N/A: Pastor, Epiphany (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • 2002: Director of Retirement community (Sarasota, FL)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Robert Spangenberg:

Father Robert Spangenberg was ordained a priest of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit Province of the United States, (aka the Spiritans) in 1974, who served in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. According to media reports, Diocesan documents revealed that Father Spangenberg was sexually abused at least two children. Since Spangenberg’s holy obligation was to the Spiritans, the Diocese had very few documents on his ministry.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh was first notified that there was a problem with Spangenberg’s ministry in 1988. At that time, a woman wrote to the Diocese of Pittsburgh and to the Vatican in order to obtain help for her son. She named Spangenberg as her son’s abuser and stated that another priest from Spangenberg’s order was helping them with counseling. She wrote that she was upset that her letter was simply “noted” and that she has not heard from anyone regarding the matter since.

The priest that was giving counseling to the boy’s family was from Spangenberg’s holy order. In Spangenberg’s file, there was a letter from January 1989, reporting that they had investigated the issue and were enclosing a report of their findings.No report on the Spiritans findings was included in Spangenberg’ s file to the Grand Jury.

In 2009, an adult male reported that when he was 15 to 16 years of age, he and Spangenberg engaged in many types of sexual encounters. The boy reported that he was involved in street prostitution with young boys known as “Hustlers.” Spangenberg befriended him during this period and Spangenberg actually promoted the activity by engaging the boy in sexual activities after he ran away from home.

Spangenberg also paid the boy a finder’s fee for him to locate younger hustlers (known as “Chickens”) to have sex with Spangenberg. The boy reported that Spangenberg enjoyed using “huff’ (sniffing glue) while Spangenberg performed oral sex on him. Additionally, Spangenberg would pay for his sexual services with money from the collection box and would even pay the boy in drugs and alcohol.

In a note in the Diocesan files, it was documented that the boy thought Spangenberg was a “really sick guy – he would have person urinate and defecate on him.”

The Diocese and the Spiritans continue to share financial responsibility for the cost of
the male’s therapy, medication, job searches, criminal court costs and assistance with child support.

Spangenberg died in 2006 and is buried in Saint Stanislaus Cemetery in Etna, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

He was first named publicly as accused in a priest profile in the 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report.

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.

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