Fr. Walter A. Sempko – Diocese of Harrisburg

| Apr 7, 2020 | BANKRUPTCY, Catholic Church, Sex

Fr. Walter A. Sempko

Diocese of Harrisburg 

Ordained: 1950

Retired: 1998

Died: 2017


Assigned as Follows:

  • 1951 St. Joseph Parish (Hanover, PA)
  • 1951-1952 Corpus Christi Parish (Chambersburg, PA)
  • 1953-1954 St. Anthony’s (Ranshaw, PA)
  • 1954-1960 St. Francis of Assisi Parish (Harrisburg, PA)
  • 1960 Our Lady of Mercy Parish (Roaring Creek, PA)
  • 1962-1967 St. Joseph Parish (Milton, PA)
  • 1967-1975 St. John the Evangelist Parish (Enhaut, PA)
  • 1975-1983 St. Joseph Parish (Danville, PA)


Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Walter A. Sempko:

In July of 2019, a lawsuit that was filed by a Missouri man claimed that he was sexually assaulted and repeatedly sodomized by two priests in the Harrisburg diocese. The priests who were named in the suit were Father Raymond Daugherty and Father Walter Sempko. He claimed that the alleged abuse occurred while he was an altar boy at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in the early 1960’s. He also claimed that bishops concealed reports of sexual abuse and protected the priests who committed such acts. Both priests have been long deceased since before these allegations were reported. 

In February 2020, the Diocese of Harrisburg filed for bankruptcy protection. As part of its bankruptcy, the Diocese of Harrisburg will be reviewing and paying claims for anyone sexually abused by diocesan priests and lay employees. This will likely include claims filed on behalf of anyone whose case may be beyond the statute of limitations. Ahead of the grand jury report, the Diocese of Harrisburg released the names of 71 priests, seminarians and laypersons accused of sexually abusing children since 1941. After the report was released, the total was over 301 identified and accused priests in Pennsylvania alone.

One name that was included in the proceedings was Father Walter A. Sempko. The list that the Diocese of Harrisburg provided does not include any information about the number of victims who have come forward, the nature of the misconduct, or the timeframe that the alleged abuse occurred. The diocese has also not listed whether or not the previous claim against Sempko is the only reason he was named in the bankruptcy proceeding.

His case falls under the category of clergy for whom criminal or canonical proceedings were not undertaken or completed. This category contained the names of deceased clergy who served in the diocese and have been officially accused, but no proceedings have been undertaken (usually due to their death). In most of these cases, the cleric died before the conclusion of the proceedings, or before the allegations were received. According to his obituary, Father Sempko died in 2017. There has been no formal determination of guilt or innocence. 


Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Harrisburg and throughout Pennsylvania. The Diocese of Harrisburg filed for federal bankruptcy protection in February 2020. Anyone sexually abused by a priest or employee of the Diocese of Harrisburg may be entitled to file a claim against the Diocese in these bankruptcy proceedings, but very strict filing deadlines apply.  Most victims of abuse in the Diocese of Harrisburg will never be able to take action against the Diocese of Harrisburg if they miss this bankruptcy filing deadline, so it is important that you contact us immediately to discuss your potential case.   

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