Former pastors in Kane were involved in sex ‘scandal’

Two of the priests named in a grand jury report of sexual abuse were pastors in Kane.

Rev. Joseph W. Jerge was the pastor at St. Callistus from 1970 to 1989, and served in the Erie Diocese from 1951 through 1992.

Rev. Michael J. Amy was an administrator and resident at St. Callistus for most of 1989 and pastor there until the end of 1991.

Both priests were placed on sick leave, according to the report, immediately after leaving St. Callistus.

Amy never returned to the priesthood.

Jerge, who died in 2006, served again as parochial vicar at two other posts in the Diocese. The Diocese was first made aware of allegations of sexual abuse against Jerge in early 1989.

Complaints against Jerge include one from a male victim who was “between the ages of 13 and 18 at St. Callistus,” according to the report. He “stated that all sexual assaults by Jerge occurred inside Jerge’s car.”

The victim said Jerge would take several altar boys to a movie or restaurant. He would drop off all the other boys first and, two to four times a month for those years, “caress and rub” the victim’s “crotch area,” according to the report.

That victim “eventually entered the priesthood and was ordained,” according to the report.

Another victim of Jerge also tried to enter the priesthood.

According to the report, Jerge took that victim, a sophomore in high school, “on trips along and fondled him on a number of occasions.”

Later in the victim’s life, “he would be blackballed from employment and preemptively blocked from any attempt to be admitted to seminary,” according to the report. “Bishop (Donald) Trautman personally instructed school administrators not to hire” the victim when he applied for a position as director of religious education at a Diocese school.

Jerge was “taken out of ministry” by Trautman in 1992 after another complaint about an inappropriate friendship with a teenage boy.

Amy was ordained in 1978. He reported to the Diocese in 1993 that he had fondled several boys when he was in training for the priesthood in 1974 and 1975. As a camp counselor at Camp Notre Dame in Fairview, he “took the opportunity to touch the genitals of several boys at night,” Amy wrote in the 1993 letter to the Diocese. “Two, at least were aware of my fondling. In 1974 one of them ran away because of my molesting him. The PA State Police were involved in the search. When he was found, he spoke of the molesting.”

The report indicates he was not charged in that incident.

Amy admitted that he “was involved with male prostitutes in the Erie area” and others “while serving as a priest. “Many of these male prostitutes were minors.”

One of those contacted the Diocese in 1991, saying Amy paid him for sex, sometimes at the rectory of Holy Trinity Church, according to the report.

In 1993, the Rev. Salvatore Luzzi, who was then pastor of St. Joseph in Warren, was asked to complete a questionnaire regarding Amy’s character as part of a laicization — removal from priesthood — proceeding. Luzzi was listed as a “spiritual counselor” of Amy.

In response to the question, “Has his conduct as a priest ever been a source of scandal or wonderment?” Luzzi said he was “amazed (Amy) was made a pastor in a place where something happened before. I personally wondered when these things would resurface.”

COMMENTS