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Diocese of Greensburg, community members outraged over parish employee's criminal history

Westmoreland County community outraged over parish employee's criminal history
Westmoreland County community outraged over parish employee's criminal history 02:20

GREENSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) — The Diocese of Greensburg and community members want to understand how an employee with a criminal record worked for the parish for years.

Shon Harrity began working for the diocese in 2012. Diocese leadership said they became aware of his lengthy criminal record after new charges were filed this month. Those charges include rape, statutory sex assault, and aggravated indecent assault involving a minor.

Shortly after the arrest, the diocese discovered the 47-year-old's criminal record dating back to the early 2000s. 

"It's a shame that they didn't catch this before," said Linda Hixson, a community member.

The Diocese of Greensburg has now requested an investigation by Westmoreland County detectives based on concerns of a potential conspiracy to conceal the criminal background of the 47-year-old. Harrity most recently worked at Immaculate Conception Parish's cemetery in Irwin. 

"As pastor, the responsibility falls to Father Moineau, which he has acknowledged he is deeply remorseful," Bishop Larry Kulick said. 

Father John Moineau resigned after a request to step down, ending his 36-year tenure as priest with the diocese.

"If he knew something and didn't report it, then I'm sorry. That was wrong on his part," said Hixon.

Others in the community disagreed with the decision. They came to the defense of their beloved priest on Wednesday.

"It's not like the guy was a murder and he knew it and he hired him anyhow," said Dave Reese. "Father John would have never hired someone had he known there was a problem like that with the guy's background."

On top of the request for an investigation from detectives, the diocese is implementing safeguards to ensure this doesn't happen again.

Moving forward, priests and administrators have been ordered to:

  • review each employee and volunteer file
  • audit of clearances by human resources
  • mandatory sessions for safe environment training for all clergy and employees
  • clearance renewals every time an employee or volunteer transfers positions

"Someday in front of our Maker like each of us, I will be judged by the actions I take on this Earth. I have no doubt that this is the right decision," Bishop Kulick said. 

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