Five years after his conviction for having an inappropriate relationship with a teenage boy, former Bradford priest Samuel Slocum has been defrocked by Pope Francis.
Bishop Lawrence Persico confirmed to The Era on Monday. “He’s no longer ‘Father,’ he’s just Mr. Sam Slocum now.”
Reached via email on Monday, Slocum, 65, declined to comment.
Slocum was placed on administrative leave by Bishop Donald Trautman in March 2011 when the allegations came to light, Persico said.
“Once the authorities were involved in this, it’s our policy to step back and let it run its course,” he said. “As it progressed and came to trial, it was obvious, with what he did, that he could not go back to ministry.
“It only made sense to have him dismissed,” the bishop said. “In August 2011, Bishop Trautman sent the case over to Rome. We finally got a decision on it Nov. 8, 2016.”
Persico said Slocum’s is the first dismissal since he was named bishop of the Erie Diocese in October 2012; and the fourth since the diocese was formed in 1853.
“Dismissal is pretty serious,” Persico said, adding it isn’t common.
Explaining the length of time involved from the conviction to the dismissal, the bishop said, “The Congregation for the Clergy that handles these requested more information, which we sent over (to the Vatican). That would have been in May of last year, and then in November, that’s when they sent the letter saying he was dismissed.”
After receiving the letter with the pope’s decision, Persico then contacted Slocum to inform him; and then notified the parishes in Bradford. The newsletter of the diocese, Faith Life, carried a notice of Slocum’s dismissal on March 5.
Actions of this type have not been publicized in the past, but Persico said it was important that the Bradford community be informed of the decision.
“First of all, the people in the Bradford area would have to know he is no longer a priest,” Persico said, “nor would I want people to approach him to ask him to say Mass or a celebration of the sacraments.”
Once made, the decision to dismiss a priest is permanent.
“There’s no appeal to this. It was decided by the pope,” Persico said. “There would be no way to appeal when you are dismissed.”
The notice printed in the diocesan newsletter read in part, “Because Mr. Slocum has now been removed from the clerical state, he is forbidden to function as a priest in the Catholic Church and should no longer present himself as a priest.”
In January 2012, Slocum was found guilty after a three-day trial of concealment of the whereabouts of a child and corruption of minors. From January to March 2011, while Slocum was the priest at Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church in Lewis Run and St. Francis of Assisi in Bradford, he had an inappropriate relationship with a teenage boy. He gave the boy expensive gifts, had the child at his residence without the boy’s mother’s permission and lied about it when confronted, according to court records.
At trial, Slocum’s defense centered around his intentions, which he claimed were innocent. While Slocum did not take the stand in his own defense at trial, the prosecutor played an hours-long interview between him and three state troopers.
In the recorded interview, Slocum said the priesthood was lonelier than he had anticipated, and he just wanted company. He said, “When I decided to be a priest, I had no idea what the consequences would be. No companionship. You have no idea what it’s like to be old and alone.”
He repeatedly denied having any romantic interest in children, and said he just wanted to be a father to them.