Two men who say they were repeatedly molested by their former Catholic grade school teacher confronted him nearly 30 years later while CBS News’ hidden cameras captured the emotional encounter.
Sean Dougherty and Brian Sabo say they were around 10 or 11 years old when the Rev. George Koharchik began molesting them. The two men, now in their 30s, didn’t tell anyone about the abuse until 2012, when others came forward with allegations against Koharchik.
Koharchik was removed from the priesthood shortly after the allegations, and in 2015 confessed to a grand jury that he had molested boys.
“After the second or third time you’re on his lap in his car and he accidentally brushes his thumb and hand against your penis, you start to think — you go, ‘This is different,’” Dougherty told CBS News.
Koharchik agreed to meet up with Dougherty and Sabo at a restaurant recently, where CBS News had installed hidden recording devices.
“I’m certainly sorry for the harm I’ve caused,” Koharchik told the men. “And I’m ashamed of anything that I did back then.”
When asked why he had targeted them as children, Koharchik told Dougherty and Sabo that it was possibly because they were “familiar.”
“I’m angry with what you did,” Dougherty said, adding that he had attempted suicide when he was 24 because of the abuse. “But I have forgiven you a long, long time ago for this. The part that I cannot forgive is the cover-up. That crushed me.”
Sabo asked Koharchik whether he felt he should have talked to someone when he first started having urges to molest boys, instead of acting on his impulses.
“It could have saved 10 of us,” Sabo told him.
But Koharchik claimed the risk of being “dismissed” was too high at the time, if he told a bishop about his desires. He said he admitted the abuse in confessional and believes he’s been forgiven by God.
“I have to carry this the rest of my life,” Sabo said. “I came to tell you I don’t want to think about you anymore. I can’t forgive you.”
CBS News attempted to question Koharchik after his nearly 90-minute meeting with Dougherty and Sabo, but he declined to comment.
The Catholic Church has faced a reckoning over pervasive sexual abuse by its clergy since Pennsylvania’s attorney general in August released a damning grand jury investigation that found six dioceses in the state covered up sexual abuse by 301 “predator priests” over 70 years.
Pennsylvania lawmakers have been considering a recommendation from the grand jury report that would create a two-year window for anyone over 30, such as Dougherty and Sabo, to sue for abuse suffered as children.
Dougherty and Sabo told CBS News that they felt their conversation with Koharchik was important for other abuse victims to witness.
“It’s a long damn road,” Dougherty told CBS News. “But you can regain your control over your own life.”