Father Roger Sinclair
Diocese of Greensburg
Sick leave: 1983 – 1984
Inpatient treatment: 1983-1984, 2002
Faculties suspended: 2002
Retired (voluntarily): 2005
Assigned as follows:
- 1974 – 1977: Immaculate Conception (Connellsville, PA)
- 1977 – 1979: Holy Family (Latrobe, PA)
- 1979 – 1980: St. Therese (Uniontown, PA)
- 1980 – 1983: St. Mary (Kittanning, PA)
- 1984 – 2002: Released to the Archdiocese of Military Services
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Fr. Roger Sinclair:
Fr. Roger Sinclair was ordained a priest in 1974, who served in multiple parishes in the Diocese of Greensburg. According to media reports, in 2018, he was named publicly as accused in the PA Grand Jury report. It revealed during his assignment at Holy Family in Latrobe there was “an incident” with a young man that Sinclair brought on vacation to Florida. Specifics were not contained in the grand jury report, but memoranda reviewed indicated “the young man’s father refused to confront Sinclair,” which seems to refer to the Diocese of Greensburg’s modus operandi that anyone accusing a priest of sexual misconduct must confront him personally. If a victim (or his/her parent) refuses to do so, the matter was generally dropped and the allegations classified as “withdrawn.”
In 1981, two mothers wrote to the Diocese of Greensburg that Sinclair molested (or attempted to molest) their fourteen-year-old sons during a sleepover at one of the boy’s homes. According to the allegations, in 1980, Sinclair went over to the house for a drink with the boy’s father and the boys were watching television together during a sleepover. After the victim’s father went to bed, Sinclair chased the boys around the living room trying to “shake hands” but each time he did so, he would push the victims’ hands near their genitals. One of the victims reported that Sinclair tried to put his hands down the victim’s pants.
According to the Grand Jury Report, the mothers first reported the incident to Father Thomas Bertolina, Pastor of St. Mary, but he did nothing. One of the mothers went on to plead to Bishop Gaughan that Sinclair be sent for professional help away from the parish and away from children. Eventually, Bishop Connare requested outpatient therapy for Sinclair in 1981 through Catholic Social Services. He feared for any hidden hostility or anger residing in Sinclair that may have led to occasional drinking and aggressive behavior when drinking with the boy’s father.
Seeing almost nothing done with Sinclair, who still continued to try to spend time with her son, one of the mothers threatened to go to police in August 1981. She was talked out of it by the then- Vicar General, who promised to seek the Bishop’s counsel immediately. Nothing was done.
The following year, in 1982, Bishop Gaughan wrote a letter to the Catholic Social Services of Allegheny County alleging many parishioners were “after them” to have Father Sinclair transferred. A group of mothers assembled on behalf of their sons and approached the Chief of Police. Once they did, the Chief announced he had already heard the “rumors” about Sinclair and spoke with the Chancery about them already. Bishop Connare permitted Sinclair to stay at St. Mary.
Connare’s responded to another concerned mother in 1983 by apologizing for Sinclair’s behavior. He believed Sinclair had sought professional counseling and Connare said had already arranged for Sinclair’s further evaluation/treatment. Connare promised Sinclair would no longer be in the parish. Promptly after writing to this mother, Connare ordered Sinclair to report to the House of Affirmation, a notorious treatment facility for pedophile priests, in Missouri. In the referral letter to HOA, Bishop Connare said the move was prompted by more allegations of Sinclair’s attempts toward minors. The Diocese placed Sinclair on sick leave from 1983 to 1984 for his treatment.
Upon his release from treatment, Sinclair applied for chaplaincy with the Air Force; the Bishop of Greensburg provided a letter of reference stating Sinclair was in “good standing” with the church.
In 1991, while assigned to the Topeka (Kansas) State Hospital, a facility devoted entirely to the care of mental health problems, Sinclair reportedly “managed to gain access to a locked unit deceitfully” and tried soliciting the teenage boys of that ward to see a movie with him.
According to the Grand Jury Report, in 2002 another victim came forward claiming Sinclair abused him at the age of 9/10-years-old while he was an altar server at Immaculate Conception. The abuse stopped when Sinclair left IC, but resumed when Sinclair was assigned to St. Therese, which was near a close family friend’s home.
The Diocese of Greensburg revoked Sinclair’s faculties, rescinded his Archdiocese of Military Services endorsement and sent him to treatment at the Andos Center, another notorious facility for priests accused of sexual misconduct, in 2002.
In 2002, the attorney of still another victim reported that his client had been sexually abused in 1979 while at Holy Family Latrobe. The victim was thirteen-years-old at the time of the abuse.
Sinclair was ultimately removed from public ministry in 2002, but his removal – or the reason why – was never made public. He quietly retired in 2005, and was laicized shortly thereafter. In support of his petition for laicization, the Diocese of Greensburg cited Sinclair’s admitted sexual misconduct with minors, though it is not clear exactly which allegations he admitted. Based upon our experience, the admission(s) likely came during one or more of this inpatient treatments, or even during meetings with Chancery officials.
In 2016, Oregon police arrested Sinclair for sexually abusing a mentally disabled man. He pled guilty to multiple counts of attempted sodomy and sexual abuse of the 19 year old victim, and was recently sentenced to seven years in prison.
Sinclair is currently incarcerated at the Oregon State Penitentiary.
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.