HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS/AP) — A grand jury report into child sexual abuse in Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania says church officials gave a former priest a positive reference to work at Disney World, even though they’d fielded at least one complaint about him sexually abusing a boy.
The ex-priest, Edward Ganster, went on to work at Disney World for 18 years. He died in 2014.
The report cites a letter Allentown’s bishop wrote to Orlando’s bishop in the late 1980s while Ganster was on sick leave at a Catholic mental health hospital. He said Ganster’s problems were “partially sexual” and that he couldn’t reassign him.
“I don’t know her problems. His were at least partially sexual and led to my decision that I could not reassign him,” Bishop Thomas Welsh of the Archdiocese of Allentown said in the letter, according to the report.
The report says a monsignor separately told Ganster he was sure the diocese would give him a positive reference.
“I am quite sure that the Diocese will be able to give you a positive reference in regard to the work you did during your years of service here as a priest,” wrote Monsignor Anthony Muntone, according to the report.
In 2002 and later, the diocese allegedly received complaints about Ganster abusing two more victims in 1977.
In one of the complaints, Ganster is accused of fondling and groping a 14-year-old altar boy. The report reads that Ganster “dragged the boy across a living room floor, pulling him by the underwear,” and also “beat the victim repeatedly, once using a metal cross.”
The report identified more than 300 “predator priests” who allegedly molested more than 1,000 children in six dioceses. The grand jury says it believes the “real number” of abused children might be “in the thousands” since some records were lost and victims were afraid to come forward.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)