A former Washington County priest who was accused in December of taking photos of a 13-year-old boy in the bathroom of an East Liberty Target store died Saturday, according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office.
Paul Spisak, 77, died in a Pittsburgh hospital. The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh was informed of his death Monday afternoon, according to Jennifer Antkowiak, a spokeswoman for the diocese. At the time of his arrest in December, Spisak’s address was listed as St. John Vianney Manor, a retirement home for priests in Pittsburgh’s East Carnegie neighborhood.
Jesse Geleynse, a spokesman for Allegheny County jail, said Spisak had been at the facility since Jan. 4, and was found unresponsive in his cell Jan. 22. He was taken to a hospital and was found to have “numerous medical complications.”
Spisak had been at churches in Donora and Peters and Cecil townships throughout his career. Along with the incident at the Target store, Spisak was also accused of recording men in a bathroom at South Hills Village in 2006. Removed from the priesthood in 2003, he was named in the 2018 grand jury report released by the Pennsylvania attorney general detailing sexual abuse within the Catholic Church dating back to the 1940s.
The report stated that Spisak was found to have photos of underage boys showing their buttocks when he was assigned to St. Dominic church in Donora in 1998, as well as pornographic magazines, tapes and internet material. Spisak reportedly denied having any sexual contact with adults or minors, but did say he had taken boys of high school age with him on vacation during the 1980s. The report stated that when Spisak was asked about the pictures by a housekeeper, he replied that they were innocent and “just for fun.”
An evaluation that was sent to Donald Wuerl, who was then bishop of the Pittsburgh diocese, determined that Spisak had “a significant interest in grade school age males” and was diagnosed as “having a sexual disorder that is compulsive in nature...”
Following his arrest in December, Spisak was charged with photographing sexual acts involving a child and possessing child pornography, both felony offenses. He was also charged with misdemeanor invasion of privacy.
In addition to St. Dominic church, Spisak also was assigned to St. Charles Church in Donora, St. Benedict the Abbot in McMurray and St. Mary Church in Cecil Township. He ended his career at Pittsburgh’s Chaplain Nursing Home.
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