Priest-abuse jury hears about bizarre ‘Passion’ play

    A Philadelphia priest-abuse jury is hearing about Catholic schoolboys who said they had to strip before a priest and endure whippings as they played Christ in a Passion Play.

    Prosecutors pursuing a child-endangerment case against a church official say the Rev. Thomas Smith remained in ministry despite those 2002 accusations. Documents show church officials didn’t think Smith was sexually motivated when he allegedly had boys undress or get naked in a hot tub.
    Smith was removed in 2005, after another accuser said Smith had taken several boys to a motel in the late 1970s, put ice down their pants and made them remove their underwear. The accuser said he awoke to find a naked Smith rubbing his body against his.

    Smith was defrocked in 2007. His current whereabouts could not immediately be determined.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal