Fr. John Murray – Diocese of Erie

| Jan 7, 2019 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Father John Murray

Diocese of Erie

Ordained: 1947

Permanently restricted: 1987

Death: Unknown

Assigned as follows:

  • 5/31/1947 -5/28/1955: Sacred Heart (Sharon, PA)
  • 5/28/1955 -6/11/1960: St. Paul (Erie, PA)
  • 8/25/1959 -8/01/1966: Erie Cathedral Preparatory (Erie, PA)
  • 8/27/1966 -1/31/1969: DuBois Central Catholic HS (DuBois, PA)
  • 6/16/1967 -10/15/1968: St. Bernard (Falls Creek, PA)
  • 10/15/1968- 5/26/1972: Health Leave
  • 5/26/1972 -1/04/1974: Our Lady Queen of the Americas (Conneaut Lake, PA)
  • 1/04/1974 – 6/01/1979: Our Lady Queen of the Americas (Conneaut Lake, PA)
  • 6/01/1979 – 10/15/1985: St. Matthew in the Woods (Erie, PA)
  • 10/15/1985 – 6/01/1987: Sick Leave
  • 6/01/1987: Restricted (Erie, PA)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Fr. John Murray:

Fr. John Murray was ordained a priest in 1947, who served in multiple parishes in the Diocese of Erie. According to media reports, in 2018, his name was included on the Diocese of Erie April 2018 list of clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse. He was also named publicly as accused in the 2018 PA Grand Jury report.

According to the report, the Diocese of Erie received reports that Father John Murray sexually molested young boys in a church rectory before serving mass, as well as in recreational settings such as the lake shore. A review of his Diocesan file revealed that, as a result, the Diocese of Erie paid thousands of dollars in therapy fees and civil settlements. Two of his victims received monetary settlements in the amount of $25,000 each.

The first allegation of sexual abuse against Murray was made in 1967. It was reported that in the summer of 1966, Murray, while in a social setting with the victim’s family at the shore, allegedly fondled the young boy in the water and on shore.

This incident was brought to the attention of the boy’s parents and Bishop John F. Whealon in 1967. There was no indication in the file that law enforcement was notified. Whealon’ s personal notes revealed that he confronted Murray with the accusation and spoke with the victim’s father on a number of occasions. Murray partially denied the allegation by telling the Bishop that the victim has “an overactive imagination,” and that any touching was accidental due to normal roughhousing with the boy.

The notes further indicated that the victim’s father met with Murray and Murray apologized to him for the incident. The records revealed that Whealon convinced the family that nothing could be done in this case. Whealon wrote that the victim’s mother and father have “no doubt that this priest (Murray) did something wrong, in the water and on the shore.”

Whealon recorded the father as saying, “If it was the first time, Father Murray is now so frightened that it will not happen again.”

In April of 1985, Murray was charged by the Pennsylvania State Police with one count each of indecent assault and corruption of minors as the result of Murray sexually molesting a 12-year-old boy who was preparing to serve mass in the church rectory. He eventually pled guilty to both charges, was sentenced to 12 months’ probation and fined.

As a result of Murray’s second instance of child molestation, the Diocese disciplined him by removing his priestly faculties in 1985. While awaiting sentencing on his criminal charges, the Diocese of Erie sent Murray to two treatment facilities. After several years of treatment, paid for by the Diocese, Murray was retired and moved to his family home in Philadelphia. As of 2007, he was still receiving money to pay for his therapy.

Finally, in 2016, Bishop Lawrence Persico received the latest complaint against Murray. This incident came to the attention of the Diocese when the victim was visiting the Conneaut Lake area. According to Persico’s handwritten file note, the victim, now 55 years of age, was a 12-year-old boy in 1973. He was cutting grass at Our Lady of the Americas church where Murray was the Pastor. Murray allegedly grabbed the child’s genitals through the boy’s clothes.

Persico wrote to the victim on September 15, 2016, and advised him that the Diocese notified the Erie County District Attorney’s Office and reported the incident to Childline. He further advised that Murray was out of ministry, was not permitted to function as a priest and offered to speak with the victim should he have any further questions.

Murray appears on the Diocese of Erie’s list of credibly accused priests who are now deceased.  The date of his death is unknown.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Erie. 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 Erie may have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so please do not delay in reaching out to us.

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