Msgr. Thomas Snyderwine – Diocese of Erie

| Jan 14, 2019 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Monsignor Thomas Snyderwine

Diocese of Erie

Ordained: 1976

Retired (in good standing): 2012

Faculties restricted: Never

Assigned as follows:

  • 6/05/1968 – 6/03/1971: Weekend Asst., St. Michael, DuBois, PA
  • 6/05/1968 – 6/03/1971: Faculty, DuBois Central Catholic, DuBois, PA
  • 1/01/1970 -6/01/1970: Administrator, St. Joseph, DuBois, PA
  • 6/03/1971 -6/05/1976: Faculty, Erie Cathedral Preparatory, Erie, PA
  • 6/03/1971 -5/31/1974: Weekend Asst., St. Boniface, Erie, PA
  • 5/31/1974 -6/05/1976: Weekend Asst., St. Patrick’s School, Erie, PA
  • 6/05/1976 -9/01/1979: Parochial Vicar, St. Patrick’s, Erie, PA
  • 9/01/1979 -8/17/1992: Weekend Asst., St. George, Erie, PA
  • 9/01/1979 -8/17/1992: Higher Education, Gannon University, Erie PA
  • 8/17/1992 -9/05/1997: Pastor, St Paul, Erie, PA
  • 9/05/1997 -8/10/2012: Pastor, St. Luke’s, Erie, PA
  • 9/01/2009 -8/10/2014: Diocesan Presbyterian Council, Erie, PA
  • 8/10/2012: Retired, Private residence
  • 10/14/2013- 10/13/2018: Other. Sr. Priest Advocate
  • 9/12/2014 – 9/11/2019: Diocesan Board. Presbyterian Council, Erie, PA

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Monsignor Thomas Snyderwine:

Monsignor Thomas Snyderwine was ordained a priest in 1976, who 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. The report revealed that sometime in 1996, a fifth-grade girl reported to the principal of St. Boniface grammar school, a nun, that her godfather, Monsignor Snyderwine, had taken a shower with her and touched her in ways that she did not like. The child reported that this incident occurred 5 years earlier when she stayed overnight at Snyderwine’s trailer. The girl added that Snyderwine would buy her dresses and shower her with gifts.

Sr. Steff approached Snyderwine and the girl’s parents with the accusation. The parents confirmed the incident and told Steff that they had become friends with Snyderwine, but felt awkward talking to him about the incident. The parents explained that they had informed their daughter to never be alone with him and expressed their gratitude to Steff if she would talk with Snyderwine for them.

When Steff approached Snyderwine with the accusation, she informed him of the incident and threatened to go to Bishop Murphy if this behavior ever happened again. She further admonished Snyderwine by telling him that he had better change his behavior.

This incident resurfaced in 2002 because of the increased scrutiny being cast upon the Catholic church in the United States. Steff wrote Bishop Trautman to inform him of the incident – and her handling of it – 6 years earlier.

In his notes, Bishop Trautman wrote that he would speak to the Diocesan Review Board on the issue and make a decision on Snyderwine’ s future in ministry. However, Steff refused to give the Bishop and the Review Board the name of the family or the victim. Trautman noted that Steff told him, “she would have to pray and think about that and that she would give me (Trautman) the name only after she spoke with them (victim’s parents). ”

In later notes written by Trautman, he documented that the victim was now a freshman in college and the parents (both teachers themselves) did not want to pursue the matter. He also noted that Steff informed him that Snyderwine recently said mass for the family when a death in the family occurred.

Several additional points of interest were found in subpoenaed files, which included Snyderwine’s personnel file. Notably, a handwritten note by Trautman indicated the following: “I contacted [the Diocesan lawyer] who said I am not a mandated reporter in this case.”  Based upon that incorrect advice, Trautman took no steps to inform law enforcement about the allegation.

These documents also contained notes that Trautman took while he was talking with Steff. In one such note, Trautman wrote, “Sister feels the matter is over with and priest deserves a second chance.”

Monsignor Synderwine is currently retired (in good standing) and living in Erie, Pennsylvania.  There is no indication his faculties to minister publicly have been restricted.  His profile on the Diocese of Erie website states only “under investigation.”

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.