Fr. Giles Nealen – Diocese of Erie

On Behalf of | May 8, 2020 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Father Giles Nealen 

Diocese of Erie

Ordained: 1951

Died: 1996

Assigned as follows:

  • 1944-1951: St. Vincent ArchAbbey (Latrobe, PA)
  • 1954-1963: St. Vincent ArchAbbey (Latrobe, PA) 
  • 1949-1951: St. Vincent Scholasticate Prefect 
  • 1951-1954: Sacred Heart (St. Mary’s, PA)
  • 1956-1963: Master of Brothers
  • 1964: St. James (Waynesburg, OH) 
  • 1964-1967: St. Benedictine Priory (Vinhedo, S. P. Brazil) 
  • 1967-1968: St. Benedict (Marguerite, PA)  
  • 1968-1971: Queen of the World (St. Mary’s, PA) 
  • 1971-1972: St. Bruno (South Greensburg, PA)
  • 1972-1980: St. James (Waynesburg, OH) 
  • 1990-1992: Sacred Heart (St. Mary’s, PA )

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Fr. Giles Nealen:

Fr. Giles Nealen became a Benedictine monk of St. Vincent Archabbey in 1945. He was ordained a priest in 1951, 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, as well as on the Diocese of Youngstown’s list. He was also named publicly as accused in the 2018 PA Grand Jury report.

According to the report, a letter dated July 1972 revealed that both the Order and Diocese of Greensburg knew that Father Nealen was “involved in an inappropriate incident” while he served as pastor of St. Bruno in South Greensburg. One significant sentence in the letter stated, “For reasons already known by you, it is wise and prudent to reassign the present Pastor, Father Giles Nealen, O.S.B., at this time.” Shortly after, he was transferred to the Diocese of Youngstown and served at St. James in Waynesburg, OH. 

In 1992, Father Nealen retired to the Archabbey where he remained active as chaplain to the Latrobe Carmelite Monastery of Nuns and assistant to the Prior.  In January 1993, a man reportedly wrote a letter to the Diocese alleging that Father Nealen sexually abused him in 1970 when he was 13 years old at Queen of the World in St. Mary’s, PA. He said his two friends were also abused by the priest, and begged the church to keep Father Nealen away from other young boys so they wouldn’t be sexually abused by him. Father Nealen was already confined to infirmary when the allegation was made. He died in December 1996. 

In May 2002, a woman reported to the Diocese that she knew of at least three men who Father Nealen sexually abused as boys. One had just been arrested for sexually abusing young boys.  Another woman alleged in a 2004 letter that her 11-year-old son was sexually abused by Father Nealen while he served as priest at Queen of the World 30 years earlier. She described the drastic change in her son’s behavior from a “happy go lucky child to a pensive and irritable child.”  

Around the same time, Father Nealen was abruptly removed from the parish with no explanation given to the parishioners. She reportedly said it was a few years later when she found out the reason he left. Her son had never married, would not walk in to a Catholic church and was, after thirty years, still severely traumatized by the sexual abuse he endured from Father Nealen. 

Another victim’s father told the hosts of the radio show “Erie in the Morning” that Father Nealen, who was “part of their family” and would stay entire weekends at their home, sexually abused his son for years between the ages of nine and fourteen. When he confronted the priest, who had recently left the parish, Father Nealen told him the reason he did it was because “his son needed love.” 

No information on the status of these victims or if any were offered counseling was not disclosed. Additionally, the Grand Jury investigation found no records that the Diocese of Erie notified police or the District Attorney’s office about Father Nealen’s long history of sexually abusing so many young boys. 

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.