Retired priest from Allentown diocese says he sexually abused a minor

READING, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Church officials say Father Stephen Halabura retired 11 years ago, but only recently informed Catholic leaders that he had sexually abused someone who was under the age of 18 back in the early 1980s.

Halabura, now 87, says it happened when he was assigned to, what was, Saint Anthony's of Padua Church in Millmont.

St. Anthony's closed in 2015 after merging with a church in Shillington.

Michael McDonnell, from the Philadelphia chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, better known as SNAP, says it is great that Halabura stepped forward, but now he wants to know if there is more than one victim.

"It is rare that we see any predator, priest or not, have one victim. I believe that there are more victims out there and I urge them to come forward," McDonnell said.

Action News asked people who live in this community if they are shocked that new reports and allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members still surface years after the first claims were made public.

"It is hard to answer that question because it is so stunning. After all this time it still knocks me back. Just unreal," said Beatriz Brunnell.

Meanwhile, McDonnell had a message on behalf of SNAP for any other potential victims.

"We will have your back. We understand. We believe you. Do not be afraid to reach out, but certainly contact law enforcement and seek counsel," he said.

Criminal charged against Halabura are pending.
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