Church helped former priest accused of abuse get Disney job

A sweeping grand jury report into child sexual abuse in Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania said church officials gave a former priest a positive reference to work at Disney World, even though they’d fielded at least one allegation about him sexually abusing a boy.

Posted: Aug 15, 2018 7:09 PM

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A sweeping grand jury report into child sexual abuse in Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania said church officials gave a former priest a positive reference to work at Disney World, even though they’d fielded at least one allegation about him sexually abusing a boy.

The ex-priest, Edward Ganster, left the priesthood in 1990, moved to the Orlando area and went on to work at Disney World before he died in 2014.

The report said Ganster worked at the theme park for 18 years. Ganster drove the train at the Magic Kingdom, according to an obituary in the Orlando Sentinel, which said Ganster worked there for 15 years.

Disney World did not respond to a request for information.

Ganster, who became a priest in 1971, was working at St. Joseph’s Church in Easton in the late 1970s when a woman complained to a monsignor that Ganster had gotten in bed with her 13-year-old son on an overnight trip and “hurt” him, the report said. The boy also told his mother that “something happened” in the confession booth, it said.

The monsignor told her Ganster would be given counseling and Ganster was promptly reassigned, the report said.

About a decade later, Ganster was on sick leave at a Catholic mental health hospital as he sought to leave the priesthood and get married.

Ganster wrote the Diocese to say he would apply for a job at Disney World and wanted to use the Diocese as a reference, the report said.

Allentown’s bishop, Thomas Welsh, wrote to Orlando’s bishop that Ganster’s problems were “partially sexual” and that he couldn’t reassign him. A monsignor separately assured Ganster that he would get a positive reference.

“I am quite sure that the Diocese will be able to give you a positive reference in regard to the work you did during your years of service here as a priest,” the monsignor wrote, according to the report.

A diocese spokesman, Matt Kerr, said he knows of no reference letter, or if one was written.

“That should not have happened,” Kerr said. “It would not happen today.”

More than a decade after Ganster left the priesthood, a man contacted the Allentown Diocese to report that Ganster had victimized him when he was 14 and an altar boy some two decades earlier, the report said.

Ganster fondled, groped and beat him repeatedly, once dragging him across a living room floor by his underwear and once beating him with a metal cross, the report said.

Years later, in 2015, the mother of another victim contacted the Allentown Diocese to report that Ganster abused her then 12-year-old son in 1977, the report said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 34574

Reported Deaths: 2134
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9853578
Lake3616190
Allen161869
Cass15877
Elkhart132228
St. Joseph127434
Hendricks116971
Hamilton115993
Johnson1105108
Madison58659
Porter53928
Bartholomew51135
Clark50441
LaPorte43323
Howard40828
Tippecanoe4023
Jackson3891
Delaware38537
Shelby37322
Hancock33827
Floyd31839
Boone31535
Morgan27724
Vanderburgh2742
Montgomery24117
White2358
Noble23221
Clinton2321
Decatur22431
Grant21122
Dubois1993
Harrison19422
Henry18211
Greene16924
Vigo1698
Dearborn16821
Monroe16612
Warrick16628
Lawrence16324
Miami1401
Putnam1377
Kosciusko1351
Jennings1304
Orange12822
Scott1203
Franklin1108
Ripley1096
Marshall1082
Carroll932
Daviess8816
Steuben832
Wayne825
LaGrange812
Wabash782
Newton7810
Fayette777
Jasper671
Washington521
Jay520
Clay511
Fulton491
Rush472
Randolph473
Pulaski460
Jefferson451
Whitley423
Starke393
DeKalb371
Sullivan361
Owen351
Brown331
Perry330
Wells320
Benton300
Huntington282
Knox280
Tipton251
Blackford252
Crawford240
Fountain212
Switzerland200
Spencer201
Parke180
Gibson172
Posey160
Adams151
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0167

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 120260

Reported Deaths: 5390
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook779253642
Lake8331291
DuPage7707373
Kane6338178
Will5566276
Winnebago225155
McHenry156672
St. Clair113782
Kankakee91045
Kendall79819
Rock Island65824
Champaign6407
Madison58060
Boone45217
DeKalb4164
Sangamon35129
Jackson28610
Randolph2704
Peoria2339
McLean22013
Ogle2063
Stephenson2062
Macon19319
Clinton18617
Union15411
LaSalle15313
Whiteside14013
Iroquois1324
Coles12715
Out of IL1181
Warren1170
Jefferson10116
Knox1000
Grundy982
Monroe9512
McDonough8811
Unassigned850
Lee811
Cass730
Tazewell735
Henry690
Williamson672
Pulaski560
Marion500
Jasper457
Macoupin452
Adams441
Perry410
Vermilion401
Montgomery391
Morgan361
Christian354
Livingston342
Jo Daviess320
Douglas280
Jersey241
Fayette213
Ford201
Menard200
Woodford192
Mason180
Washington180
Hancock170
Mercer170
Shelby161
Bureau151
Carroll152
Schuyler130
Bond121
Franklin120
Clark110
Crawford110
Fulton110
Moultrie110
Piatt110
Brown100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson80
Effingham71
Massac70
Saline70
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Edgar10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Terre Haute
Few Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 73°
Robinson
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 74°
Indianapolis
Few Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 70°
Rockville
Scattered Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 68°
Casey
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 71°
Brazil
Few Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 73°
Marshall
Few Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 73°
A warm up on the way.
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Monday Afternoon Weather

Image

Washington Catholic High School

Image

Rules of the roadway will be different for Indiana drivers, new hands-free law in place

Image

Monday: Sunny, warmer. High: 78

Image

Exotic Feline Rescue Center special events canceled

Image

Indiana bowling alleys still closed, business owner prepares

Image

Teen killed in weekend accident remembered at vigil

Image

Duke Energy saving programs

Image

Staying cool this season

Image

Indiana state parks to stay closed

WTHI Events