Pennsylvania

Allentown Solicitor Fired After Being Accused of Trying to Discredit Victim in Pennsylvania Priest Sex Abuse Report

Allentown’s mayor confirmed city council voted unanimously to remove Thomas Traud as Allentown’s solicitor Wednesday night after he was referenced in the 1356-page grand jury report.

What to Know

  • Allentown's solicitor Thomas Traud was removed Wednesday night after being mentioned in the Pennsylvania priest sex abuse grand jury report.
  • The report accuses Traud of repeatedly trying to discredit an abuse victim while he was the Allentown Diocese attorney.
  • Allentown's city council voted unanimously to have Traud removed during a meeting Wednesday.

A day after an explosive grand jury report was released accusing hundreds of Pennsylvania priests of child sex abuse, Allentown’s solicitor was fired for allegedly trying to discredit one of the victims while he was the lawyer for the Allentown Diocese.

Allentown’s mayor confirmed city council voted unanimously to remove Thomas Traud as Allentown’s solicitor Wednesday night after he was referenced in the 1356-page grand jury report.

Traud was mentioned during a section of the report detailing the allegations against retired Allentown priest Father Francis J. Fromholzer.

The report accuses Fromholzer of repeatedly sexually abusing two teen girls while he served as a religion teacher at Allentown Central Catholic High School in the 1960s. The report alleges that the Diocese of Allentown as well as Allentown Central Catholic High School were aware of the abuse allegations but took no action.

After repeatedly trying to report the abuse over the span of several decades, one of the accusers began to pursue criminal charges against Fromholzer in 2002, according to the report. Traud was the attorney for the Allentown Diocese at the time.

The report accuses Traud and the Allentown Diocese of repeatedly trying to discredit the woman and her family. In a fax sent in 2002, Traud referred to the woman as, “overly dramatic” and claimed that she made “an awful amount of assumptions that just were unwarranted,” according to the report.

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Traud also reported information on the woman’s sexual history and her family member who had spent time in prison in a further effort to discredit her, the report states.

The report also mentions Traud in the section on David Soderlund, an Allentown Diocese priest accused of sexually abusing three boys in the 1980s.

In 1987, the administrator for the hospital where Soderlund served as chaplain, advised that Soderlund be fired due to the amount of time he was spending with an eight-year-old boy, according to the report. The report alleges that Traud, who was also the Allentown Diocese attorney at the time, instead recommended that Soderlund trade places with the chaplain of another hospital.

In 2009, Soderlund was arrested, convicted and sentenced for two to five years for sexual exploitation of children/possession of child pornography on his computer, according to the grand jury report. He is a registered sex offender in Wyoming.

The allegations against Fromholzer are detailed from page 20 to page 29 in the report while the allegations against Soderlund are detailed from page 372 to 375. You can read those excerpts as well as the entire report here(warning: explicit and disturbing content).

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Traud has not been arrested or charged in connection to the grand jury report.

A spokesperson for the Allentown Diocese said none of the 37 priests named in the grand jury report are still on the job. Communications Director Matt Kerr told NBC10 the Diocese immediately reports any sexual abuse allegations to law enforcement.

A more than 1300-page report details accusations against abusers in dioceses across Pennsylvania– including clergy members in our area.
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