Fr. Michael R. Freeman – Diocese of Erie

| Jan 6, 2019 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Father Michael Freeman

Diocese of Erie

Ordination: 1972

Faculties Revoked by Diocese of Buffalo: 1981

Possible inpatient treatment: 1981, 1989

Faculties Revoked by Diocese of Erie: 1989

Died: 2010

Assigned as follows:

  • 1972-1975 St. Margaret (Buffalo, NY)
  • 1975-1976 St. Lawrence (Buffalo, NY)
  • 1975-1976 Bishop Turner High School
  • 1976-1980 Sacred Heart (Niagara Falls, NY)
  • 1980-1981 Chaplain, United States Army
  • 1981 Unassigned
  • 1982-1984 St. Christopher (Tonawanda, PA)
  • 1984-1989 St. Mary (Lancaster, PA)

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Fr. Michael Freeman:

Fr. Michael Freeman was originally ordained a priest for the Diocese of Buffalo in 1972. He also served in multiple parishes in the Diocese of Erie. According to media reports, in 2018, he was first named publicly as accused in the PA Grand Jury report. It noted the Diocese of Buffalo first became aware of his criminal activity in 1981. Despite Freeman’s confession of sexual misconduct at St. Margaret’s and St. Lawrence parishes in New York, he was later allowed to minister in the Diocese of Erie under the supervision of his “benevolent bishop,” Bishop Michael J. Murphy. He worked there until 1989, but was never incardinated into the Diocese of Erie.

According to the grand jury report, Michael Freeman of Erie was also treated at Southdown Institute, a notorious treatment facility for pedophile priests in Toronto, on at least two occasions. Based upon our experience, we believe it is highly likely that at least one, if not both, of these treatments occurred before Freeman was assigned in the Diocese of Erie. It is typically the case that dangerous priests who are discharged from treatment seek work in another diocese from a “benevolent bishop” when their home diocese will not allow them to be reassigned there.  While we cannot say this with absolutely certainty in the case of Freeman without seeing his personnel file, the chronology certainly suggests this was the case.

Freeman subsequently admitted to sexually abusing children in all of the parishes to which he was assigned.

He was never assigned in ministry after 1989, but it is unclear what Freeman did to support himself after that time.  In 1999, the Diocese of Buffalo indicated in a letter to Freeman that they were terminating his insurance benefits because his “new employer” would be covering them, but the identity of the “new employer” is not clear.

According to The Buffalo News, another victim told the Diocese of Buffalo that Michael Freeman of Erie forced him to perform oral sex on the priest at gunpoint while he was a child. According to the victim, Freeman repeatedly sexually abused him and then forced the child to confess his “sins” once the act of abuse was complete, as if the boy had done something wrong. The victim added that on one occasion Freeman took him on a trip to Toronto where the Father allegedly paid a male prostitute to have sex with both Freeman and the victim. The abuse began in 1984, when the victim was 14-years-old and continued well into the victim’s high school years.

Freeman died in 2010.

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.