Pennsylvania grand jury report has West Virginia ties with Clarksburg priest

(WCHS/WVAH)

A Pennsylvania grand jury report on Tuesday said its investigation of 301 Catholic priest sexual abuse identified more than 1,000 child victims.

According to the report, a West Virginia bishop knew the sexual abuse background of a priest from Pennsylvania and still allowed him to serve with children.

The lengthy grand jury report sheds light on child sex abuse within the Catholic church and the cover-up of church leaders. A portion of that report focuses on Father Raymond Lukac who served in the Immaculate Conception Church in Clarksburg in 1964.

Before that, Lukac served in the Western Pennsylvania Diocese and was allegedly involved with teenage girls and fathered a child with one victim. Diocese documents show in 1957 Lukac married the victim, and months later divorced her. Lukac was sent to a treatment center in New Mexico, then worked temporarily in other dioceses in Illinois and Indiana. The bishops there would not accept Lukac into their dioceses.

But according to the report, in 1964, Lukac landed within the Diocese of Wheeling, which is now the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Wheeling Bishop Joseph Hodges wrote a letter to church officials in Pennsylvania saying Lukac was "most welcome here -- that I know something of his background and will be happy to cooperate in helping him."

View Lukac's portion of the grand jury report below.

Lukac spent a short time working with high school students at the Immaculate Conception Church in Clarksburg. The report states eight months later, Hodges wrote that he did not want to lose Lukac, but felt it might be better for him to be moved and that should happen before "classes resumed." Lukac was then was made a Chaplin for the Veterans Administration Service.

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston said they are aware of the lengthy report.

"The report issued by Pennsylvania does not show any allegations of abuse during his short time here, but if anyone wishes to come forward we are open to hearing from them," said Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston spokesperson, Tim Bishop.

Wednesday is a holy day in the Catholic Church, so current bishop, Michael Bransfield wasn't available for comment.

The spokesperson said the Diocese follows standards that have been set forth to protect children from sexual abuse. The spokesperson adds Hodges, who wrote the letter cited in the report has since died and they may never know his mindset when allowing Lukac into the Diocese.

To read the full grand jury report, click here.

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