Spotlight on Catholic Priest Abuse-Diocese of Harrisburg

In the recent investigative exposé of Catholic priest abuse in the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania a number of priests were mentioned.  Some of those priests were listed because they had worked in the Diocese of Harrisburg but had not had any allegations of sexual abuse levelled against them according to the Diocese.  One of the names stands out in particular, Fr. Guy Marsico.

Marsico is mentioned in the York Daily Record’s report and his assignment history in the Diocese of Harrisburg is listed.  The story mentions that “a Lancaster County man said he was sexually abused by Marsico at St. Rose of Lima Church in York in the 1980s when he was a boy. No records could be found to show whether Marsico was charged. He could not be reached for comment. The Rev. Paul Schenck, who was filling in for St. Rose’s pastor Rev. Paul Fisher, who was out of town, said on July 29 that he didn’t have any details about Marsico’s assignment at St. Rose or details about any allegations. The Harrisburg diocese said Marsico was removed from all ministry and was laicized. It said alleged abuse took place ‘beginning approximately in 1981’ and was first reported to the diocese in June 1994.”

Marsico was assigned to Assumption Blessed Virgin Mary in Lebanon County (1974 to 1975 and 1977 to 1978); St. Leo the Great in Rohrerstown, Lancaster County (1976 and 1979 to 1982); St. Rose of Lima in York County (1983 to 1985); and St. Gregory the Great in Lebanon County (1986 to 1994), according to The Official Catholic Directory.

The York Daily Record doesn’t elaborate further on the allegations against Marsico but our own research found an April 2011 Penn Live story about an abuse case involving Marsico and a young parishioner.  According to Penn Live, Marsico befriended Todd Frey, a fourth grader at the time.  When Marsico was transferred to St. Rose of Lima in York, he invited the boy to spend the weekend at his new parish.  The story relates the incidents of sexual abuse that would torment Todd Frey into adulthood.  

When he was 16 years old, Frey told his mother about the abuse. By then, he was failing classes and using drugs. His mother didn’t know what to do and did not call police.

“That’s how things were done back then,” she said. “We knew it was morally wrong, but didn’t know it was legally wrong. There wasn’t anything you could do. You didn’t go to police. You went to the diocese.”

According to Penn Live, “In 1994, 12 years after the alleged abuse happened, Frey and his parents contacted the Harrisburg Diocese. The diocese launched an immediate investigation.

That August, the family received a letter written on plain paper and dated Aug. 8, 1994:

“I write to you with deepest regret. My words may not be many, but they are heartfelt. … no words could ever begin to express how sorry I am for having hurt you —— all of you … I’m a very different person today … I pray that God will bring you healing. I also pray that with time and His help, He might move you to forgive me. If you were able to look into my heart and soul you would see how regretful I am…”

The letter had no return address and was signed simply: Guy. The diocese says it has no knowledge of this letter. Frey said he has little doubt the letter was written by his former priest.

The Harrisburg Diocese removed Marsico from ministry and laicized him.  However, when Frey asked the

Diocese for help, he got a terse response.  

“Since prior to your report the diocese was not aware of any problems the priest may have had, it was determined that the diocese cannot be responsible for the actions of a priest which are performed for his own ends and which are condemned rather than approved by the Church,” a top official wrote Frey.

Todd Frey, now an adult with deep scars, has been wounded by the church’s response to one of its priest’s actions.  He has never had a long-lasting relationship and never been married.  In his own words, ““I’m looking for validation,” Frey said. “I have people say, ‘Move on.’ I haven’t. I’m still waiting to be counted.”

This allegation is the only known one concerning Fr. Guy Marsico.  If you or a loved one have been abused by Marsico, please call me so I may help you heal.


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