Defrocked Bucks County Priest Faces Charges for Fondling Altar Boys Before Mass, DA Says - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Defrocked Bucks County Priest Faces Charges for Fondling Altar Boys Before Mass, DA Says

Francis 'Frank' Trauger is accused of fondling two altar boys before Mass at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Levittown, Pennsylvania in the 1990s and 2000s

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Former Priest Accused of Sexually Assaulting Altar Boys

    A former priest was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting at least two altar boys during his tenure at a Bucks County church. NBC10's Deanna Durante has the details.

    (Published Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019)

    What to Know

    • Francis Trauger is accused of sexually assaulting 2 altar boys during his tenure at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Levittown, Pa.

    • Trauger, now 74, is accused of indecent assault on the two boys in the 1990s and 2000s.

    • Bucks County DA Matthew Weintraub is urging other potential victims to come forward. "You will be heard and justice will be done."

    A former priest is now charged with sexually assaulting at least two altar boys during his decadelong tenure at a Bucks County church.

    Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub announced charges Tuesday against Francis “Frank” Trauger. The alleged assaults occurred when the now 74-year-old Trauger was a priest at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Levittown, Pennsylvania in the 1990s and 2000s.

    The DA’s office began looking into allegations against Trauger after the Archdiocese of Philadelphia sent information to their office in August 2018, according to a criminal complaint obtained by NBC10.

    Earlier this year, investigators interviewed one victim who said that then-Father Trauger sexually assaulted him multiple times when he was in middle school around the year 2000. The victim said Trauger touched his genitals and buttocks during the robbing process in preparation for Mass.

    Investigators then interviewed a second victim who said he too was fondled by Trauger as he put on his robe behind the altar prior to Mass. That incident played out around 1996 when he was about 12 years old.

    “This defendant abused his position of power to take advantage of these young men,” Weintraub said. “They are very brave for coming forward now.”

    Francis Trauger is accused of sexually assaulting two altar boys during his decadelong tenure at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Levittown, Pennsylvania. See Larger
    Photo credit: NBC10 / Bucks County District Attorney's Office

    Trauger, who now lives in Brooklyn, New York, was arraigned Tuesday morning on four counts of indecent assault on minors and two counts of corruption of minors and released on unsecured bail.

    The archdiocese removed Trauger from St. Michael the Archangel in 2003 and later defrocked him after his name appeared numerous times in a 2005 Philadelphia Grand Jury Report about sex abuse in the Church. That report detailed various sexual accusations against Trauger as he was transferred multiple times to various parishes with schools attached.

    Trauger previously served at other Philadelphia, Delaware and Montgomery county churches and schools dating back to the early 1970s.

    He was also named in civil lawsuits filed in 2012 that claimed the Archdiocese of Philadelphia covered up child sex abuse allegations.

    Trauger served at St. Michael the Archangel parish from 1993 to 2003, when he was placed on administrative leave over an allegation of abusing a minor.

    “The District Attorney’s Office believes he may have harmed additional young people in this time,” the DA’s office said in a news release.

    The DA’s office urged potential victims to come forward despite any concerns over statute of limitations.

    “I say this to anyone else out there who was victimized by this predator: ‘Please come forward. You will be heard, and justice will be done,’” Weintraub said.

    Anyone with information can contact Tullytown Police Sgt. Phil Kulan at 215-945-0999, ext. 225; or Bucks County Detective Lt. David Kemmerer at 215-348-6354. Victims can also reach out to their local law enforcement.

    Weintraub also suggested anyone seeking help reach out to the Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA) at 1-800-675-6900.

    Court records don’t list an attorney who could comment on Trauger’s account.

    The Archdiocese of Philadelphia said it has cooperated fully with the investigation after a new allegation of abuse against Trauger came to light last summer. The archdiocesan Office of Investigations has Trauger listed under "Archdiocesan clergy laicized as a result of credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor."