A former Washington County priest charged in December with 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 notified of his death Monday afternoon, according to Jennifer Antkowiak, spokeswoman for the diocese. At the time of his arrest in December, Spisak’s address was listed as St. John Vianney Manor, a nursing home for priests in the East Carnegie neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Jesse Geleynse, a spokesman for the Allegheny County Jail, said Spisak had been in the facility since January 4 and was found unconscious in his cell on January 22. He was taken to hospital and found to have “numerous medical complications”.
Spisak had attended churches in Donora, 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 in South Hills Village in 2006. Removed from the priesthood in 2003, he was named in the grand jury report of 2018 published by the Attorney General of Pennsylvania detailing sexual relations. abuses within the Catholic Church since the 1940s.
The report says Spisak discovered photos of underage boys showing their butts when he was assigned to St. Dominic’s Church in Donora in 1998, along with pornographic magazines, tapes and internet material. Spisak reportedly denied having sexual contact with adults or minors, but said he took school-aged boys with him on vacation in the 1980s. The report said that when Spisak was asked about the photos by a cleaning lady, he replied that they were innocent and “just for fun”.
An assessment that was sent to Donald Wuerl, who was then bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, determined that Spisak had “a significant interest in boys of school age” and was diagnosed as “having a sexual disorder of a compulsive nature. …”.
After his arrest in December, Spisak was charged with photographing sex acts involving a child and possessing child pornography, both criminal offences. He was also charged with invasion of privacy.
In addition to St. Dominic’s Church, Spisak was also assigned to St. Charles’ Church in Donora, St. Benedict the Abbot’s Church in McMurray, and St. Mary’s Church in Cecil Township. He ended his career at the Chaplain Nursing Home in Pittsburgh.