Fayette priest pleads no contest to sexually assaulting altar boy; Greensburg bishop working to remove him from priesthood

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Oct. 25—A Fayette County priest pleaded no contest Monday to charges of repeatedly assaulting an altar boy over three years at a parish in Fairchance, according to state Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Rev. Andrew M. Kawecki, 66, entered his plea to one count of indecent assault. Judge Linda Cordova is expected to sentence him early next year.

Kawecki's plea will require him to register as a sex offender for at least 10 years, Shapiro said.

"Kawecki's plea is a confirmation that we will always hold anyone who abuses children accountable," Shapiro said. "We prosecute these cases because we have a duty to protect children, empower survivors to reclaim their own voice and seek justice to move forward with the lives still in front of them. No cover-up is too complete, no institution too powerful, to stop us from doing our job."

Kawecki's attorney, Stephen S. Stallings of Pittsburgh, could not be reached for comment.

Kawecki was charged in August 2020 after a man reported to investigators that Kawecki forced sexual encounters with him starting in 2004, when he was 11. The assaults continued until he was 14, the complaint states.

According to Shapiro, the assaults occurred in the backroom of St. Cyril and Methodius Church in Fairchance where Kawecki prepared for services before Mass.

Following the filing of charges, an additional person came forward detailing similar abuses by Kawecki. Those allegations, however, occurred outside the statute of limitations, Shapiro said. The subsequent allegations were filed in a motion by the attorney general's office during the litigation of the 2004 case.

The Diocese of Greensburg placed Kawecki on leave in May 2019 as law enforcement began its investigation.

Kawecki served as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Everson and St. John the Baptist Parish in Scottdale when he was placed on leave.

The diocese initially reported the allegation to the PA ChildLine.

Kawecki was identified following the release of the 2018 statewide grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse in Pennsylvania, but he was not named in the report. The report has generated over 2,000 tips to the attorney general's office, including the information that led to Kawecki's conviction, Shapiro said.

Kawecki was born in Gdansk, Poland. He was ordained in Greensburg in 1980.

Diocese spokeswoman Jennifer Miele reiterated Monday that the diocese in 2019 "immediately removed him from the parish and reported the allegation to ChildLine" after learning of the allegation.

"The diocese fully cooperated with the investigation," Miele said.

Bishop Larry J. Kulick is undertaking the process of removing Kawecki from the priesthood, she added.

"Bishop Kulick is spending time today in prayer for all victims of child sexual abuse, in particular those hurt by anyone associated with the church. We ask that if anyone suspects that a child, young person or vulnerable adult has been abused by any person at any time, the person should call PA ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313, no matter when or where the suspected incident might have occurred," Miele said.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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