Community Issues

Priest Abuse Claims Hit Home With My Classmates

I picked up the paper one morning and I saw the headline, "14 new lawsuits against Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese in sex-abuse scandal". As I read through the article a name jumped off the page...


I picked up the paper one morning and I saw the headline, "14 new lawsuits against Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese in sex-abuse scandal". As I read through the article a name jumped off the page... "Father John Unger". Then another name grabbed me, "Kirk Rice". Father Unger was the pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Shadyside. Kirk was one of my classmates at Sacred Heart Elementary School. We were both alter boys.

Kirk says Unger raped him and seven of our classmates. Five of them are dead by drugs, alcohol, or suicide. It's a dirty secret the Church tried to keep buried for decades.

(Photo: Rev. John Unger from cover of Sacred Heart Church Pittsburgh Centennial Thanksgiving Mass 1972 - Vinyl LP Record Album)

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So Father Unger is dead, but the impact of his actions still haunts these men who live to tell about it. The Catholic Diocese in Pittsburgh did not address the allegations.

Kirk is now sharing his story and how the abuse ruined his life. He says the abuse destroyed him. He spoke with me with the hope it will help other clergy abuse victims move forward.

I talked to Kirk on my KDKA Radio show here in Pittsburgh. You can watch and listen to the full interview without commercials in this video:

I was shocked by the allegations. We grew up at Sacred Heart Church in Pittsburgh. My parents married there. We were baptized at Sacred Heart`, all five of the Griffin children. My heart aches for my elementary school classmates who are dead. All young men, allegedly abused by a priest they trusted and feared. I never liked Father Unger. Now I know why. Unfortunately...I learned too late to help my old friends.

I had to tell this story here on Sparkt. I hope it helps others who have been abused to speak out.

Here at Sparkt, we want to make a difference. We want you to know if you have experience simple abuse we can get you the help you need. Resources are listed and linked below.

Ways To Report Abuse

State of Pennsylvania Dept. of Human Services:

Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh:

Lawyers Representing Victims of Abuse:

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