Local prosecutors investigate Dayton tie to Pennsylvania priest case

Prosecutors are investigating allegations a Pennsylvania priest took a high school student on vacations to several cities across the U.S., including Dayton, and fondled the boy’s genitals during one of the overnight trips, the Dayton Daily News has learned.

The allegation is included in an explosive Pennsylvania grand jury report accusing more than 300 priests and other Roman Catholic vowed religious of collectively abusing more than 1,000 children.

The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office “will look into the brief reference made in the report that one of the priests visited Dayton with a possible victim. There was no specific allegation or mention in the report of inappropriate conduct that occurred in Montgomery County,” said Greg Flannagan, the spokesman for Prosecutor Mat Heck.

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“The statute of limitations of any complaint would need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis,” Flannagan said. “It would be premature to speculate as the statute of limitations is dependent upon a number of factors, including when law enforcement is first notified.”

Flannagan said prosecutors will “investigate to determine what information is still available, and proceed accordingly.”

In March 2002, an adult man alleged Father Gregory Premoshis sexually abused him from 1980 to 1982 when he was a student at a high school in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, the report said. The victim said he was approximately age 16 or 17 during the alleged abuse.

Premoshis, who was born in 1938, fondled and wrestled with the victim while the priest was in his underwear, the report said. The priest “would often have an erection during these ‘wrestling matches.’”

“Ultimately, the victim started staying overnight at the rectory and slept in the same bed as Premoshis. One morning, the victim awoke with ‘cream’ on him, which he later realized was semen,” the report said.

“Premoshis also took the victim on numerous overnight trips and vacations, including to Waynesboro, Virginia, Atlantic City, New Jersey, Dayton, Ohio, and to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina,” the report said. “During one trip, the victim awoke to find Premoshis fondling the victim’s genitals, at which point Premoshis jumped back into his own bed. When the victim asked Premoshis about what he was doing the previous night, Premoshis said he did not remember.”

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A representative of the bishop of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, confronted Premoshis in 2002. The priest admitted to giving gifts to the victim, buying him dinner, supplying him with alcohol and loaning him his vehicle, the report said.

“He also confirmed having slept in the same bed with the victim on multiple occasions, both in the rectory and on trips,” the report said. “Premoshis denied, however, ejaculating on the victim, but explained he may have had a ‘wet dream’ while they were sleeping in the same bed.”

The Diocese of Greensburg revoked Premoshis’ public ministry in 2002. He retired early, according to the report. That year, the victim filed a lawsuit against the bishop, diocese and Premoshis, but it was dismissed in 2003 due to the expiration of the statute of limitations, according to the report. The victim received a settlement of $5,000 and 90 counseling sessions.

A telephone number for Premoshis could not immediately be found. A 2002 Pittsburgh Tribune story said Premoshis "adamantly denies he did anything inappropriate" and was "totally baffled by the charges."

Contact staff writer Will Garbe at will.garbe@coxinc.com.

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