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Former Texas Panhandle priest named in Pennsylvania grand jury report

Priest (MGN)

A Roman Catholic priest named in the Pennsylvania grand jury report has connections to the Texas Panhandle and New Mexico.

Father Edward R. Graff served as a priest in the church for about 45-years. Ten of those years were spend in the Santa Fe, N.M. and Amarillo Dioceses after leaving Allentown, Pennsylvania where he served at various schools and parishes for nearly 30-years.

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Court documents say "during his years in ministry, Graff raped scores of children. The Grand Jury investigated not only Graff's conduct but the knowledge of the relevant Dioceses."

During the investigation, the grand jury noted Graff's primary problem was documented as being an alcoholic. The court documents show that after coming through internal Diocesan records obtained through a subpoena on September 1, 2016, the grand jury noted Graff entered the Neumann Center in August 1986 "for what was reported as chemical dependency."

In February 1992, Bishop Thomas Welsh of Allentown, P.A. signed off on Graff retiring from active ministry in the Diocese, but he was authorized to start a ministry to the needy in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. In Welsh's letter, he told Graff to "continue your ministry to the various needy persons you are already serving." Graff was accountable to the Servants of the Paraclete in Albuquerque, a treatment center that according to court documents was regularly used by Pennsylvania Dioceses "for the evaluation and treatment of sexual offenders." Graff was given a monthly pension, living allowance, medical and life insurance, and car insurance as noted in the letter from Welsh.

According to the grand jury report, Welsh then sent a letter to Archbishop Robert Sanchez of the Catholic Center in Santa Fe, explaining he signed off on Graff leaving the Allentown Diocese and that he "understood that Sanchez had permitted Graff limited faculties within the Archdiocese of Santa Fe under the supervision of the Servants of the Paraclete."

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A series of letters were exchanged between Welsh and Bishop Leroy Matthiesen from the Amarillo Diocese starting in 1993. They outline Welsh's concern over Graff being transferred to the Amarillo Diocese without anyone consulting him and Matthiesen's thanking Welsh for "alerting me to the risk I may be taking." By 1995, Graff was in charge of the Silverton, Turkey and Quitaque parishes. Matthiesen wrote, "He is well received and loved by the people who are almost totally Hispanic and among the poorest of the poor."

Court documents show Welsh reached out to the Servants of the Paraclete in November 1994, asking if Graff was being monitored and requested specific details. He wrote "I know that you will appreciate the reasons for my concern, since the matter presents both your Congregation and the Diocese of Allentown with the potential of legal liability for anything untoward which may occur in the course of Father Graff's ministry in Amarillo.

Three years later, a new Bishop took over the Diocese of Allentown. Court documents say there was no evidence of action against Graff at that time.

On October 2, 2002 Graff was arrested in Briscoe County and charged with sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy. He died in Swisher County jail due to injuries from an accident on November 25, 2002 while he was awaiting trial.

ABC 7 reached out to the Amarillo Diocese for comment on the grand jury findings. They say:

The Diocese of Amarillo is aware of the allegations brought against Father Edward Graff in a Grand Jury report released in Pennsylvania on Aug. 14. Father Graff served as a priest in the Diocese of Amarillo from 1993 to 2002. He was arrested in June 2002 on charges of sexually assaulting a child. Father Graff died in November 2002 after sustaining injuries from a fall in Swisher County jail.

Editors note: ABC 7 chose not to go into the graphic details of the abuse the victims say they suffered. If you would like to read the grand jury report, you can do so here.

Below are letters between the Allentown, PA Diocese and the Diocese of Amarillo about Father Graff:


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