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York Catholic: Priest left Harrisburg diocese after abuse allegations surfaced in 2012

Written by Geoff Morrow/The York Daily Record | Aug 6, 2018 5:15 AM
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Father William Cawley (Photo: Submitted)

(York) -- York Catholic High School acknowledged a former teacher's inclusion in last week's Diocese of Harrisburg list of clergy who've been accused of sexual abuse.

In a statement released on its website and labeled Friday night as "A message for the York Catholic family," the school confirmed Father William Cawley taught there from 1988 until 2012.

Reactions to the statement were mixed on the York Catholic Facebook page.

Cawley was included among the 71 priests and clergy associated with the Diocese of Harrisburg who've been accused of sexually abusing children in cases dating as far back as the 1940s.

Cawley, who is alive, was listed among those where cases of abuse were alleged to have occurred in a different diocese.

In his case, that was the Diocese of Great Falls/Billings in Montana.

From past stories and copies of "The Official Catholic Directory," the York Daily Record discovered this about Cawley:

"He retired in 2012 after teaching for 23 years at York Catholic High School. He was not the subject of any allegation of abuse while in the Diocese of Harrisburg. The diocese said it received a report that he was accused of sexual abuse of a child in a lawsuit in Wyoming. The lawsuit was actually filed in Montana and alleges that he abused a boy starting in the 1970s."

In its statement Friday night, York Catholic reiterated that the Diocese of Harrisburg "was clear that this was a list of accusations and they did not make assessments of credibility or guilt in creating the list."

The school says in 2012 the Diocese of Harrisburg received a report from a lawsuit in Montana that Father Cawley was accused of sexually abusing a child before beginning his tenure here in York.

It also states that Cawley left the Diocese of Harrisburg as a result of these accusations.

Attempts to reach Cawley were unsuccessful.

When reached for further comment, a York Catholic spokesperson said all inquires are being fielded by the Diocese of Harrisburg.

Read the full statement from York Catholic here.

 

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and The York Daily Record.

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