Priest accused of abuse lands Disney World job with reference from Pa. diocese

York Daily Record, Pennsylvania/August 16, 2018

By Sam Roland

It was common to see terms such as “sick leave” or “health leave” cross the pages of the recently released Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy abuse, often referencing times when a priest was absent from the ministry in relation to child sexual abuse. 

Sometimes, that’s where their stories stopped. 

That terminology, "sick leave," was used three different times when documenting the employment and assignment history of the Rev. Edward George Ganster from the Catholic Diocese of Allentown.

However, his story didn't end there. He went somewhere else — to the “happiest place on earth"— and stayed for quite a while. 

Ganster worked at Walt Disney World for 18 years following his departure from the priesthood in 1990. At least three victims had come forward with child sexual abuse allegations against him. 

And the Diocese wrote him the reference letter that secured the job for him. When requesting the recommendation, they told him: “I am quite sure that the Diocese will be able to give you a positive reference in regard to the work you did during your years of service here as a priest.”

More: Priests used gold crosses to ID kids as abuse targets and other horrors from Pa. report

According to the grand jury report, a 13-year-old told his mother that Ganster had “hurt him and got in bed with” him during an overnight trip to the beach in 1977.

The mother immediately reported the abuse to the Monsignor of the parish, who said he would take care of the situation. She was told that Ganster would be removed from the parish and given some counseling, according to the report. 

Ganster was reassigned to a different parish, and more allegations of abuse followed. 

He was put on sick leave for a final time in 1987 and eventually left the priesthood at his own request to get married, the grand jury report states. 

The Bishop of Allentown at the time, Thomas Welsh, wrote a letter to another bishop regarding Ganster’s intent to marry. The grand jury report quoted that letter, "I don't know her problems. His were at least partially sexual and led to my decision that I could not reassign him." 

In that letter, the diocese acknowledges Ganster’s history of child sexual abuse. And it was their recommendation that helped him land the job at Walt Disney World — a job that certainly could have exposed him to children.

It is unknown if any reports were made about Ganster during his time working with the popular theme park.

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