DALLAS — About 20 people rallied along state Route 309 early Sunday morning calling for Prince of Peace Episcopal Church to cut ties with a man once investigated on allegations of sexual abuse.
Edward A. Dreisbach, 84, of Falls, was considered a person of interest after allegations made by former Boy Scouts and investigated by the Wyoming County District Attorney’s Office. According to his alleged victims, Dreisbach had inappropriate contact with Scouts from Troop 336, of which he was troop leader, in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. Charges were never filed due to the age of the alleged incidents.
“The problem we are facing for the (alleged) victims we have now is the statute of limitations has expired,” Wyoming County District Attorney Jeff Mitchell said back in February.
Boy Scouts of America revoked Dreisbach’s leadership role in 1989 after an internal review of claims against him, according to The Times Leader archives.
Dreisbach has been an active member of Prince of Peace for decades. He has served as an acolyte, coordinating ceremonial services that often involve children. He had given a ride to a teenage boy Sunday morning.
Shawn Considine, a former Troop 336 Scout, coordinated Sunday’s rally. He lives in Colorado now with three children of his own. He had followed the trials of former Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, now serving a 30-year sentence for having sexual contact with boys involved in his Second Mile youth program.
When the jury announced its verdict on charges against Sandusky last year, Considine said he fell to his knees. Events from his scouting days flooded back, he said. He flew in from Colorado, ordered about 100 yard signs and invited the public to attend the rally Sunday.
“I saw a lot of stuff as a kid, but I was young. We … I gotta do what I can to help (any other possible victims),” Considine said. “I just wish I could’ve seen something back then to do more.”
Confrontation at church
Robert Smalanskas of Lewisberry, another former Scout who went public last year with his story of alleged sexual abuse that happened in the ’70s, approached Dreisbach as he was leaving from the rear of the church.
From the passenger door of Dreisbach’s car, the teenage boy told Smalanskas and Considine to “Please, leave us alone. I have a soccer game to get to.”
Smalanskas asked Dreisbach if he’d ever confess to molesting boys during his tenure as a Boy Scout leader.
“Confess my foot,” Dreisbach said to Smalanskas.
Smalanskas persisted and asked if Dreisbach is willing to “carry your guilt to your grave.” Dreisbach answered that he would take it to his grave.
It’s unclear if any charges could be filed if Dreisbach confesses to allegations because no claims exist within the time allowed by the statute of limitations.
During his sermon, Prince of Peace pastor the Rev. Joseph Rafferty told the congregation it stands with the protesters to protect God’s children. He did not mention Dreisbach’s name. He spoke in general terms and said God’s grace is offered to everyone.
“Faith can be found in outsiders, in the unclean, even in those who are sinful,” Rafferty said.
Concerning the boy Dreisbach has been helping get to church, Rafferty said he has explained allegations against Dreisbach to his parents and they willingly allow the man to take their son to church despite the claims.
One woman in the congregation quietly expressed her disdain for the protesters. She said Dreisbach has only ever supported the church. She said that if Dreisbach has a sordid past, so be it, and everyone has things to be ashamed of.
Before services, Rafferty approached the rally visibly shaken. Rafferty, who only began ministering at Prince of Peace on June 1 this year, said he cannot simply dismiss Dreisbach without considering Scripture.
“I can’t do it immediately. I have to think about Jesus and the Gospel,” Rafferty said to Considine. “There is forgiveness, too.”