Were you or a loved one sexually abused by William Garvey, former basketball coach at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and president of Mercyhurst University?
Our experienced Pennsylvania sexual abuse attorneys are here to help.
Sexual abuse survivors often struggle for decades to deal with powerful and painful emotions, from anger and shame to grief and embarrassment. We understand.
It can be extremely difficult to step forward. Our compassionate team of abuse lawyers have already helped countless survivors come forward with confidence.
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Serious sexual abuse allegations have swirled around William Garvey for over a decade, but with the release of new and damning documents against the Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania, our attorneys have opened a new investigation into the handling of Garvey’s sexual abuse case. There is new evidence to consider, and we are urging sexual abuse survivors to come forward.
If you have information on William Garvey’s alleged misconduct, we want to hear about it. Learn more about the possibility of filing a university sexual abuse lawsuit in a free, confidential consultation today. We believe you, and we believe your story must be told.
Pennsylvania’s Catholic community is reeling in the wake of an explosive grand jury report detailing hundreds of credible sexual abuse allegations and exposing the Church’s decades-long effort to conceal sexual abuse complaints and protect dangerous sexual predators.
The report listed the names of over 300 priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse. It has shocked Catholics across the world, who have become all too familiar with sexual abuse scandals, documenting the widespread sexual abuse of children throughout six of Pennsylvania’s diocese, including the Diocese of Erie.
In order to get ahead of the grand jury report, which was released in August 2018, several diocese released lists of known child predators. One of them was Erie.
In April 2018, the Diocese of Erie published a list of all priests and laypersons who had been the subject of credible sexual abuse allegations. Among the names was William P. Garvey, who is listed as a former lay teacher and coach, then president of Mercyhurst University.
William Garvey died on August 9, 2017 at the age of 81. Garvey retired as the president of Mercyhurst University, after teaching at the college since 1962, when a story for the Erie Times-News reported serious sexual allegations against him.
The article documented the claims of multiple young men who accused Garvey of sexually assaulting them while he worked as a boy’s basketball coach at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Erie in the 1960s and 1970s. In addition, the abuse survivors alleged that Garvey had paid young minor boys to have sex with him in the mid-1980s.
More details come from a report for the Pocono Record published in October 2004. Six men stepped forward at the time to accuse Garvey of misconduct, including four men who say they were abused at the small Catholic private school where Garvey worked as a basketball coach. The allegations involved inappropriate touching and other sexual acts, but not intercourse.
Unsurprisingly, Garvey denied the allegations, which first broke thanks to the Erie Times-News‘ reporting in October of 2004. According to an obituary published by Trib Live, before his death Garvey refused multiple opportunities to speak out on the claims.
Garvey abruptly announced his retirement in December of the same year, amid an investigation led by former Erie County Judge Michael M. Palmisano and paid for by Mercyhurst University. Months after Garvey’s retirement, Palmisano’s investigation wrote an internal memo to the university’s board of trustees, saying that the claims against the former president “appear to have merit.” Garvey was never charged with a crime.
Mercyhurst was founded as Mercyhurst College by the Diocese of Erie, receiving its charter as an educational institution in 1928. The college’s founding was led by Mother M. Borgia Egan, a member of the Sisters of Mercy, a small religious institute of the Catholic Church. Since its founding, Mercyhurst has grown to become the second largest Mercy college in America.
Garvey first joined the Mercyhurst faculty in 1962, serving as chairman of the school’s education department, later becoming chairman of the social science department. He went on to become the vice president of academic affairs and dean of Mercyhurst College until 1976. After a stint in Erie County’s government, Garvey returned to the college in 1978, where he worked as the director of the college’s graduate program in criminal justice. He was appointed to be president of Mercyhurst College in 1980.
Students and faculty members at Mercyhurst have struggled to deal with the legacy left behind by William Garvey. In April, after the Erie Diocese published its list of credibly-accused sexual predators, Mercyhurst announced that Garvey’s name would be erased from the campus.
His photograph has been removed from the campus library, GoErie reports. Signs bearing his name around what was formerly known as Garvey Park have been taken down. In a statement, current University President Michael Victor, joined by University Chairperson Richard Lanzillo, wrote, “While the painful events surrounding Dr. Garvey are part of our past, they are not our present or our future.”