One Heroic Deacon & Several Abusive Ones

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2023 | Catholic Church

Abusive Deacons Horowitz Law

Recently, we discussed deacons who prey on children and how their crimes are sometimes overlooked or minimized. Too few bishops include predatory deacons on their lists of ‘credibly accused’ clerics. (Many also omit the names of abusive nuns, seminarians, monks, and brothers as well.)
What prompted us to take a closer look at deacons was a disturbing case involving a Brooklyn diocese deacon who was just sentenced to 16 years in prison for abusing three teenage boys.

Last year, Deacon Rogelio Vega pleaded guilty to other child sex crimes, specifically three counts of enticing a child to engage in sexual conduct. Vega was married with four kids when he was caught by law enforcement in 2021. (More evidence that not only celibate men assault children.)
The deacon “targeted the boys using the Kik messaging app — which is used primarily by teens and young adults — and the gay hook-up app Grindr where he expressed his interest in ‘young guys,’” according to one news account.

Another recent case: Deacon Robert J. Lanter of Swansea, Illinois, who pleaded guilty after being charged in 2019 with the felony criminal sexual assault of a woman who, according to law enforcement, could not give consent at the time. As we said earlier, crimes by deacons attract much less attention than crimes by priests, both inside and outside of the church. It bears mentioning here that, just like with priests, most deacons are good men. One, in fact, we at Horowitz Law consider way more than good. He actually never became a deacon. Instead, after years of study and preparation, he dropped out of the diaconate program when the head of his diocese became embroiled in a particularly egregious cover-up of child sex crimes. He confronted Bishop Robert Finn about his irresponsible and deceptive behavior in the case of now-imprisoned Fr. Shawn Ratigan. His name is Jim McConnell, and he lives in Kansas City, Missouri. In the eyes of many victims and advocates, McConnell is rightly considered a hero.

But back to the bad guys. Here are just some of the proven, admitted, and credibly accused abusive deacons in two heavily Catholic states, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

  • Deacon William Steven Albaugh of Baltimore. He admitted to possessing child abuse images and was suspended from his duties. He died in 2016.
  • Deacon Thom Kuhl of Baltimore. He was put on leave from his teaching job after being accused of abusing a boy.
  • Deacon Thomas M. Lemmon Accused of Altoona-Johnstown. He taught school, was accused of abusing a youngster, was suspended, and fled to Canada in 2003 with a 15-year-old female student.
  • Fr. Michael W. Matusak of Greensburg. In 2018, he was suspended because of a credible allegation that he sexually abused a child. The next year, a second allegation surfaced. That accuser said Matusak began abusing him when Matusak was a deacon.
  • Deacon John A. Rocco of Harrisburg. In 2020, his name was put on his diocese’s credibly accused list.
  • Deacon Donald “Tim” Hackman of Harrisburg. He is profiled in the 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on his diocese’s credibly accused list, and was convicted in federal court of sending child pornography.
  • Deacon Robert Logue of Harrisburg. He is also profiled in the 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report. He was accused by a 13-year-old boy and his father of asking the boy to expose his genitalia and “admitted his tendencies.”
  • Deacon Rosendo F. Dacal of Pittsburgh. In 2018, he pled guilty to charges of sending and soliciting obscene images from an undercover police officer he thought was a 14-year-old boy. A judge ordered him to register as a sex offender for 25 years, and he is included on his diocese’s credibly accused list.
  • Deacon Michael F. Conroy of Philadelphia. He was ousted from ministry due to “known sexual misconduct involving a minor” and later defrocked.
  • Deacon Charles Ginn, Jr. of Philadelphia. He taught at a Catholic school for 29 years, where he admitted hugging and kissing two young boys (but was left on the job for nine more years).
  • Seminarian John Tome of Erie. In 2018, he was first named as an accused predator in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, accused of repeatedly sexually abusing six siblings, four girls, and two boys. Though he hadn’t been ordained yet and flunked out of seminary, he called himself a deacon.So, no, priests are not the only clerics who hurt kids. And if you were hurt by ANY cleric, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to at least explore what legal options you may have and when those options may close.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by religious authority figures and other clergy. If you need a lawyer because a member of a religious organization sexually abused you, please contact our law firm at 888-283-9922 or email sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at [email protected]. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help.