Former priest and Edinboro resident linked to Catholic Diocese sexual abuse allegations

Category:  News
Wednesday, April 11th, 2018 at 6:38 PM

The Catholic Diocese of Erie released Friday 51 names of priests and laypeople accused of sexual abuse of minors while employed with the diocese. The list included the Rev. Robert F. Bower, a former priest at the Newman Center, formerly located on Darrow Road across from McNerney Hall.

The Newman Center, though not part of Edinboro University, was a nearby, off-campus religious building, open to students and members of the community.

Bower, now 85, was arrested in March 1999 and charged with three felony counts of child pornography. According to a 2002 Erie Times-News article written by Ed Palattella, Bower was arrested after a computer technician found child pornography on his computer.

During the case, Bower said he did not download the images and they were sent to him by an unknown source. His lawyer at the time, Dennis Kuftic, stated Bower was a “victim of technology.”

The charges against Bower were dismissed in February 2001 after state police were accused of contaminating the evidence by logging on to the computer before making a copy of the hard drive.

Following the dismissal of charges, Bower had “returned to saying Mass and performing other priestly functions at the center,” according to the article. Bower was affiliated with the Newman Center from 1965 up until his resignation in April of 2002.

The grand jury that has been looking at six Roman Catholic dioceses around Pennsylvania will conclude their investigation on April 30. Currently, the grand jury is looking into how the Erie diocese “and the others handled the allegations of child sexual abuse,” according to GoErie.com.

Erie diocese Bishop Lawrence Persico said in the article he expects the grand jury to release a report to “expand on the list” the diocese released.

Dakota Palmer can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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