Defrocked priest is sent to state prison

WELLSBORO – The former Blossburg and Montoursville priest convicted in May of sexually assaulting an altar boy was sentenced in Tioga County Court Monday to 5 to 10 years in state prison.

The Diocese of Scranton suspended Shoback in November 2011 when the allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced.

According to court documents, Thomas P. Shoback, 66, of Wilkes-Barre, was sentenced for seven counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and criminal attempt to have involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, as well as six months to two years for endangering the welfare of a child, concurrent.

The multiple sexual assaults against a former altar boy at St. Mary’s Parish Rectory in Blossburg took place between Feb. 20, 1991, and Feb. 20, 1997, starting when the victim was 11 to 12 years old and continuing until he was 17.

Shoback was the priest at St. Mary’s and the victim and his family were parishioners and also friends with Shoback.

The victim told the court that the abuse would happen three out of four Sundays each month when he stayed after Mass to help count the collection.

The victim testified during Shoback’s preliminary hearing last August that Shoback would perform oral sex on him after fondling him.

He also testified that on two occasions Shoback attempted to have anal intercourse with him.

He said the assaults took place either at the church rectory or at Shoback’s cabin in Farmington Township.

The victim testified that he felt “controlled” by Shoback if he didn’t spend time with him and do the things the priest wanted him to, and that Shoback would become angry, but that he never threatened him.

The victim said the relationship continued sporadically even after Shoback left St. Mary’s and was transferred to a Montoursville parish, when he would go there to do odd jobs for the priest.

He said he never told anyone about the abuse, not his parents, older brother or even his (now wife) until November of 2011 when he called the Diocese of Scranton to report the alleged abuse.

He said that he felt compelled to tell what had happened to him after the Jerry Sandusky scandal erupted “because it was the right thing to do and that he didn’t want it to happen to another kid.”

Shoback was ordained in 1977 and served as pastor of St. Mary’s and St. Andrew Parish in Blossburg from February 1989 until July 1997.