Victim Claims Sandusky Sex Scandal Connected to Philadelphia Pedophile Network

Greg Bucceroni

By Victor Thorn

On November 11, 2011, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania radio talk show host Mark Madden dropped a bombshell during an appearance on Boston’s WEEI when he told radio talk show hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan, “I hear there’s a rumor that there will be a more shocking development from the The Second Mile (TSM)—and hold on to your stomachs, boys, this is gross—that Jerry Sandusky and the Second Mile were pimping out young boys to rich donors.”

Now, further evidence that Jerry Sandusky’s TSM was being used to traffic underage boys to wealthy donors took a major step forward via a July 19 interview with Greg Bucceroni, currently employed as a school police officer in the Philadelphia, Pa. school district while also volunteering with the District Attorney’s office.

Bucceroni told this reporter, “In 1979 and 1980—when I was 13 and 14 years old—a well-connected pedophile named Edward Savitz took me on trips from Philadelphia to TSM fundraisers. I knew the minute I got there it was a breeding ground because of Savitz’s involvement. While [Jerry] Sandusky interacted with wealthy donors, the other men were sizing-up kids. I felt like a cheap whore because I was in these naked pictures that Savitz was passing around.”

When asked how certain he was in regard to these claims, Bucceroni replied, “I’m sure of it. Savitz talked about taking kids from Philly to TSM and introducing them to men—soliciting them to ‘his friends.’ They exchanged and swapped kids like baseball cards. It was a feeding frenzy. I felt like a prostitute or a go-go dancer at a bachelor party. I felt dirty, used and cheap.”

When it came to TSM’s founder, Bucceroni didn’t overplay what happened. “Savitz introduced me to Sandusky on two separate occasions, but he didn’t come across like a pedophile. The other guys at these functions, though, were different. I could tell from their body language what they had in mind. When I met him, Jerry was a like a movie star. Everyone called him ‘Coach.’ After Savitz hand-delivered my enrollment forms to him, Jerry grabbed me by the shoulder—not in a sexual way—and said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you.’ Savitz told me that Jerry would take kids to football games.”

Sexually abused victims who testified at the Sandusky trial in Bellefonte, Pa. confirmed this point.

As questioning turned to other individuals at these get-togethers, Bucceroni remarked, “They were obviously wealthy—like doctors, attorneys, politicians and businessmen—and I could tell some were married from their wedding rings. But their body language gave away their intentions. On my second trip to TSM, I went with Savitz, another pedophile, and a boy my age. Savitz mingled with the other adults, discreetly showing them child porn pictures that he’d brought along. These are the kinds of places where guys from New York, Jersey and Pa. interact. Plus, with all the Penn State hoopla, TSM promoted itself as an alternative to jail or juvenile hall. They said it was the best thing since peanut butter and jelly. But Sandusky is just one in a handful of them. I hope you shine a light on this society of pedophiles.”

On July 16, nearly a month after Jerry Sandusky’s conviction on 45 counts of child sex abuse, Sara Ganim of Harrisburg’s Patriot-News revealed, “Sources close to the Jerry Sandusky case say that three men have come forward and told police that they were abused in the 1970s or 1980s by the convicted pedophile.” She continued, “If found to be credible, [they] would directly attack the 68-year-old’s defense argument that a person doesn’t become a pedophile in his or her 50s.”





 
 
 

The Story’s Beginning

During our July 19 interview, Greg Bucceroni described himself back in the mid-to-late 1970s as “a young tough John Travolta-type kid with a New York accent—a poster boy for juvenile delinquency that got in lots of trouble.”

In 1976 he met Edward Savitz, a “youth advocate,” Democratic political booster, and big donor to then-Philadelphia District Attorney Ed Rendell. In a July 17 article for the New York Daily News, Christian Reid wrote, “Savitz was finally arrested in March 1992, charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sex abuse of children, indecent assault and corrupting the morals of a minor. He died of AIDS in a hospice days before his trial was to begin in April 1993.”

Reid also noted, “Like Sandusky, Savitz met and groomed many of his alleged victims through his work with at-risk youths.” In this context, Reid continued, “…Savitz would engage in oral sex with Bucceroni and other victims. Savitz’s attorney, Barnaby Wittels, told the Daily News Savitz paid his victims in exchange for them performing deviant acts.” Lastly, “There were over 5,000 photos of Savitz’s many alleged victims recovered by authorities from Savitz’s apartment, including many of Bucceroni,” Reid wrote.

Bucceroni continued this narrative. “Instead of going to juvenile jail, Savitz pushed me toward TSM. My stepfather had already filled-out the paperwork, so when we drove up there [32 years later, Bucceroni can’t recall the exact location], Savitz said he’d keep me out of jail if I ‘treated his friends right.’ Back in those days I didn’t know anything about Penn State or Jerry Sandusky. My whole goal was to stay out of jail, so I went along with it. Afterward, Savitz gave me and the other kids money and gifts and alcohol, but a couple of months after the TSM trip I beat him up when he tried to molest me. That’s what caused him to call the police.”

Prompted to describe what Savitz did to him, Bucceroni explained, “He liked me to defecate on him, perform oral sex on me, or else he’d take naked pictures and masturbate while other juveniles had sex. Savitz also wanted me to introduce him to other kids. Savitz had an entire photo album from TSM. Over the decades, I’d say he probably had hundreds, if not thousands, of victims until his arrest in 1992. Time magazine even wrote about him.”

Indeed, an April 13, 1992 Time magazine article entitled “Uncle Ed’s Ugly Secret” began, “To the teenage boys who visited his apartment near Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square, Ed Savitz was an easy client who paid $15 for oral sex and had a fetish for soiled underwear and socks. Health and law-enforcement officials fear that Savitz was also a walking AIDS time bomb.”

Hillary Trilogy

Fast Forward

In November  2011 when the Sandusky scandal broke, Bucceroni spoke of his reaction. “After I told the Philadelphia police about Savitz in 1980, I tried to bury my past for the next 30 years. But everything I heard about TSM really hit home. There were all these allegations about TSM and their well-connected donors. So, I decided, since all of this stuff from my youth screwed up my life, maybe I could help other kids.”

But, Bucceroni insists, the process has brought about many hardships. “It would’ve been easier to get in the ring and fight Mike Tyson than come out and talk about this stuff. I don’t have an agenda, Eddie Savitz is dead, and I don’t plan on suing anybody. All I know is that if the Philly police had listened to me in 1980 and done their work, there’s a chance that the Penn State sex scandal could have been avoided. But the police did nothing.”

On a final note, Bucceroni added, “There are a lot of politicians that take money from these wealthy pedophiles. That’s why the Freeh Report didn’t go very deep. He kept the focus limited. Similarly, the mainstream media hasn’t—for the most part—touched this story either.”

The big question now is: will local and national TV stations, news reporters, and radio talk show hosts investigate this hidden angle, or will they continue to provide cover for a network of perverted pedophiles that prey on vulnerable children at supposed “safe havens” like TSM? If they continue to stay silent, they’re as guilty as all the others who’ve covered up this atrocity.

Victor Thorn

Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and the author of over 50 books.

2 Responses to Victim Claims Sandusky Sex Scandal Connected to Philadelphia Pedophile Network

  1. Tammy Risaliti says:
    Thank you for your courage in shedding light on a dark subject that mainstream media often ignores. Very disturbing when the very people we are suppose to trust turn out to be the ones doing such evil despicable things to our children!
  2. mike ference says:
    This is how easy it is to cover-up crimes against innocent children in Pennsylvania. I don’t have a police badge or even a press pass but this is what I was able to uncover concerning one Catholic priest in the Pittsburgh Diocese.

    An Open Letter to William and Kimberly Gaines proud parents of Billy Gaines, a former University of Pittsburgh student and football player who fell to his death due to the corruption of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese.

    Sadly, Mr. and Mrs. Gaines, I have to be the one to tell you that Billy’s untimely death could have and should have been prevented. For over 25 years I’ve been trying to expose the dysfunctional and deviant behavior of a former Catholic priest from the Pittsburgh Diocese. His name is Father John Wellinger. Billy was not the only University of Pittsburgh student to be victimized by a Catholic priest, nor the only young man to lose his life because of a Catholic priest from the Pittsburgh Diocese.

    I can assure you that I have tried everything imaginable to expose the criminal behavior of Catholic priests in the Pittsburgh Diocese, especially Father John Wellinger. Had I successfully exposed Wellinger, there’s no doubt in my mind, your son, Billy would still be alive.

    What’s worse, there were so many others who could easily have exposed Wellinger but deliberately covered-up his crimes; again had any one of these dozens and dozens of people done the right thing, your son Billy would be alive today.

    I take no pleasure in writing this letter even though I know it may finally force people to confront the truth. And, I know it won’t bring Billy back, but it might save others. I have a feeling Billy would want to help others.

    Here’s what I know for sure and why Billy could still be alive today if only those people in charge would have done the right thing.

    Sometime in early 1987, possibly February or March, Father John Wellinger and a University of Pittsburgh student, Greg Witkowski, were sharing beers in an Oakland apartment that Greg leased with his brother, who was also a Pitt student.

    Greg admitted to me that Wellinger often provided alcohol for Greg and his brother. On this particular night Wellinger also drugged Greg with a substance that knocked him out for hours. When Greg regained consciousness he intuitively called 9-1-1. Scared, Greg said he raced down the flights of stairs to meet the EMS crew and ambulance that transported the still dazed student to Presbyterian University Hospital, now known as University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC).

    For whatever reason, the emergency room doctors refused to treat Greg even though he ingested an unfamiliar substance, administered by a lay person, with malicious intentions and alcohol was part of the mix.

    This was years before the Boston scandal exploded, so the Catholic Church still maintained its grip on plenty of institutions, it appears that the University of Pittsburgh was one of them and its affiliate, Presbyterian University Hospital.

    Father Wellinger trailed the ambulance to the emergency room and took Witkowski by surprise. Staying calm, Witkowski asked Wellinger to fetch his nurse. When the nurse arrived, Witkowski explained that Wellinger was the person who had drugged him. No police were called, not even hospital security. Witkowski’s parents, Robert and Ann, were summoned to the hospital and asked to take their son home. I do not know who or if anyone ever paid the hospital bill. According to former Clairton Public Safety Director William Scully, he explained to me in 1990 that a hospital worker advised Robert and Ann Witkowski not to press charges and further cautioned the parents that the Catholic Church was too powerful to challenge.

    Several days later Robert Witkowski would confront Father John Wellinger at Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin, Pa. Father Wellinger was the parish priest and the Witkowski family were members. At the time Robert Witkowski came banging on the front door of the rectory, a parish council meeting was going on with several eyewitnesses to the event. I interviewed one of the eyewitnesses who was also Father Wellinger’s secretary. Her name is Marta Placek. According to Placek the council members were concerned that Robert Witkowski was drunk and may have had a gun, so West Mifflin Police were called. No charges or arrests were made. My guess is if any questions were asked by West Mifflin police, they quickly forgot the answers.

    Over the years I spoke with Robert Witkowski on several occasions. He never volunteered very much information. He did admit that he received a letter from the legal department of the Pittsburgh Diocese or one of their law firms commanding Robert Witkowski to stay off the property at Holy Spirit Church and to stay away from Father Wellinger.

    If any of this had been exposed, like it should have been, college students throughout the Pittsburgh area would have been warned about Catholic priests such as Father John Wellinger. Freshman orientation would have been the appropriate time to issue the proper alerts. Sadly, too many people failed to take their jobs seriously. Worse yet, folks in charge succumbed to the wishes of evil men in black robes; most likely because they were scared of church hierarchy.

    Your son Billy wasn’t the only boy victimized by Father John Wellinger. There were many; too many. Here are some of them, all before your son even thought about playing football at the University of Pittsburgh.

    One boy was Chris Mathews, an 11-year-old altar boy who served under Father John Wellinger at Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin, Pa. Although, I do not know the details of the sexual abuse, I know Chris Mathews very well and his father, as well. His abuse took place in 1989.

    Also in 1989, a young boy from Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin took his own life. He killed himself with a shotgun blast. Was this young man another victim of Father John Wellinger? I do not know. As a civilian investigator, I have very few resources to conduct an investigation. Without a badge or even a press pass, most people would shy away from talking to me; all fearful of the Catholic Church.

    1989 was not a good year for former altar boys of John Wellinger. Robert Butler served under Father John Wellimger at St. Clare of Assisi Parish in Clairton, Pa. Butler also attended the parochial school; it was known as Clairton Central Catholic. Butler and his circle of friends were often invited to the rectory for fun and games with Father Wellinger. The game room had a pool table and pinball machines, I was told. Butler would kill himself with what I believe was a 32-caliber pistol on his way to Serra Catholic High School in McKeesport, Pa. One shot to his right temple; he probably died instantly. Before killing himself, Butler tried to murder my son, Adam, with a bullet discharged inches away from the back of my son’s skull. Miraculously, my son survived and thrived. It’s the main reason why, after 25 years, I’m still fighting to expose Father John Wellinger and all the harm he did to others. There’s no doubt in my mind that Wellinger sexually abused Robert Butler.

    I spoke to many people about Wellinger. I would state with absolute certainty that Wellinger’s sexual activity with young boys, young men and older women was common knowledge in every parish where the preying priest served.

    The women who worked in the cafeteria and volunteered to watch the children on the playground at Clairton Central Catholic knew to keep their children away from Wellinger. According to Mrs. Ann Weeks, the cafeteria manager at the time, Wellinger liked to parade around the playground covering the younger children faces with his long black rope and smothering their heads into his genitals, separated only by a thin layer of clothing.

    One of the things I learned through my 25 years investigating the Catholic Church is that Catholic parents don’t give a damn about other children. As long as their children’s heads weren’t being squeezed in Wellinger’s private parts, that’s all that mattered.

    Wellinger was at St. Clare of Assisi in Clairton in 1985 and ’86 or so. I was told by a Catholic priest that a man with the last name Volmer went to talk to Father Charles Bober and complained about Father Wellinger’s predatory behavior and nothing was done. Father Bober is a big-time operator in the Pittsburgh Diocese raising millions of dollars for the Cardinal Donald Wuerl Catholic High School. He’s got a plum position in a financially well-off parish church in the north hills section of Pittsburgh. Possibly a reward for keeping his nose clean and his mouth shut.

    Again, if this is true, your son Billy should have and could have been alive today.

    Back in 1987 or 1988, Marta Placek, Wellinger’s secretary at Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin, Pa. went to the Pittsburgh Diocese to protest Wellinger’s behavior at Holy Spirit Church. Her complaint included Wellinger providing living arrangements for a young man, possibly from St. James Parish in Wilkinsburg, Pa., yet another parish that witnessed at least one young man who suffered as a result of Wellinger’s demons. Instead of Placek’s concerns being taken seriously, she was labeled a gossip hound by Pittsburgh Diocesan spokesman, Father Ron Lengwin. Certainly, by the time Placek lodged her complaints, Wellinger’s dossier was simply too depraved to reveal. One could easily make the argument that Wellinger’s file was so wicked and dreadful, he may have been able to blackmail church hierarchy.

    In any event, if any of Wellinger’s alleged crimes would have been and should have been reported your son, Billy and his friends would have known better than to trust a Catholic priest overly eager to offer alcohol to underage young men.

    After all these years something made me reach out to you, William and Kimberly Gaines. I hope it makes a difference. I hope I did the right thing. I know your son, Billy was a good boy and a very tough football player.

    I tried and tried to expose the truth. I wish I could have done more. I really believe Billy could be alive today.

    Maybe, just maybe, it was Billy who spurred me on to write this letter. Maybe someday, we’ll find out.

    God Bless you William and Kimberly Gaines and God Bless Billy.

    Warm regards,

    Mike Ference

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