WELLSBORO — A priest who previously served in Wilkes-Barre has been sentenced to five to 10 years in prison for sexually abusing an altar boy, the Tioga County District Attorney’s Office confirmed.
The sentencing of the Rev. Thomas Shoback, 61, in Tioga County Court of Common Pleas followed the cleric’s May 2013 conviction on seven counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and criminal attempt to have involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, as well as endangering the welfare of a child. He was sentenced Monday.
Shoback had been removed from the ministry in November 2011 immediately after the Diocese of Scranton was contacted about the accusation and reported the matter to law enforcement, according to a written statement released by the diocese.
“With the criminal proceedings concluded and in accordance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young Adults, Father Shoback is permanently removed from ecclesiastical ministry and his case has been referred to the Holy See,” the statement said.
In response to the sentencing, Scranton Bishop Joseph C. Bambera said he was “acutely aware of the harm that the abuse of children by clergy has caused in the lives of many. … I am painfully aware of the church’s failures and apologize for any way in which the church, and in particular its bishops, priests and deacons, have failed victims of child sexual abuse.”
Bambera also reaffirmed his personal promise as bishop to continue to adhere to all civil and church laws when accusations of abuse are brought to his attention or to the attention of those who assist him.
State police said the alleged assaults took place from 1991 to 1997, when the altar boy was 11 to 17 years old, while Shoback was assigned at St. Mary’s Parish in Blossburg, Tioga County.
According to the diocese, Shoback was ordained in 1977 and served as pastor of St. Mary and St. Andrew Parish in Blossburg from February 1989 until July 1997.
He was previously assigned at Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary in Jermyn, Lackawanna County; St. Joseph’s Parish and Sacred Heart Parish in Plains Township; Holy Redeemer Parish in Exeter Township; St. Joseph’s Parish in Hazleton; Nativity BVM in Plymouth Township; Bishop Hoban High School in Wilkes-Barre, and parishes in Monroe and Lycoming counties.
Shoback was a teacher at Bishop Hoban from 1984 to 1989.
According to The Times Leader’s archives, Shoback’s brother, Edward J. Shoback, a former Diocese of Scranton priest who worked for more than 20 years at Luzerne County parishes and schools, was suspended in 2004 amid similar allegations of abuse.
Edward Shoback reportedly was defrocked by the Vatican in 2009.