York DA asking for information about possible priest abuse

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

York County District Attorney Dave Sunday said his office has set up an email where people can submit tips, complaints and concerns about possible abuse at the hands of clergy.

That includes past abuse, he said.

"We're looking into this aggressively," Sunday told The York Dispatch on Wednesday, Aug. 22.

Dave Sunday

To that end, the York County District Attorney's Office has set up an email tip line to receive "any information concerning clergy abuse in York County and/or offenses referenced in, or associated with, with 40th Statewide Investigative Grand Jury report," according to a news release from Kyle King, DA's office spokesman.

That email address is DAtips@yorkcountypa.gov.

The release notes that neither the DA's office nor York City Police were able to find records from 1995 related to allegations of clergy abuse.

"Both my office and the York City Police Department conducted thorough and diligent searches of ... records and files to see if any such materials exist," Sunday said, but none were found.

That's most likely because any such evidence was destroyed "in accordance with statewide accreditation standards governing investigations where no charges are filed," the release states.

Sunday said his office, and all York County law enforcement, "will extensively investigate any and all credible allegations of sexual abuse, including any offenses involving clergy within York County referenced in or associated with the attorney general's grand jury report."

Background: A grand jury report released Aug. 14 details sex abuse allegations against about 300 priests throughout six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, with some of the cases going back to the 1940s.

Nineteen of the men named were assigned to churches in York County at some point during their careers.

One of them was the Rev. Herbert Shank, who was assigned to St. Rose of Lima in York City from May 1984 until November 1994. 

According to the report, Shank molested seven boys in 1994. Once that report was made, Shank requested a leave of absence, officials said. Two maintenance men also reported that Shank had "disturbing" photos of minor boys, according to the report. 

In December 1994, a man reported that Shank had molested him when he was a boy, sometime between 1971 and 1974, officials said. That was when Shank was assigned to a church in Hershey.

In February 1995, the diocese notified the York County District Attorney's Office of the allegations, and the diocese handed over photographs and cassette tapes. In 2017, the AG's office spoke with York City Police regarding the 1995 report, and an officer familiar with the case said Shank recorded himself assaulting young boys, according to the report.

The officer said the victim made it clear he would not testify. Shank was sent to a treatment facility from December 1994 until mid-1997, according to the report, which states he is still alive. 

Shank did not answer the door when a York Dispatch reporter seeking comment stopped at his Conewago Township, Adams County, home Thursday, Aug. 23. 

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.