Defrocked and disgraced former priest and current head of the anti-abortion organization Priests for Life, Frank Pavone, has been accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate workplace behavior by several previous employees. [1, 2] According to The Pillar, a Catholic publication, Pavone’s alleged workplace misconduct took place from the late 1990s to 2018.  It is clear that Pavone used his power as a figurehead in the ‘pro-life’ movement to harm not only the bodily autonomy of women everywhere. Now it is being alleged he has used that power to harm and violate his own women staffers.
Pavone was removed from his standing as a Catholic priest in December 2022.  Before that, I had covered his many egregious stances in a three-part series about Priests for Life dangerous history, Pavone’s obsession and idealization of Donald Trump, and his wild conspiracy theories he uses his nonprofit’s platform to tout. But Pavone’s disturbing actions didn’t end at COVID conspiracy theories or passively condoning the possibility of migrants getting electrocuted at the border. [4, 5, 6]
Pavone stands accused of creating a toxic workplace environment that encouraged young women who worked for him to put up with his unwanted physical advances. He has been accused of physically cornering women in the office and having them file paperwork in his private quarters, often working late and alone with them. He would allegedly touch their arms, legs, hair, and ask his female employees to call him “Dad.” He allegedly invited an employee to sit on his bed, claiming she’d be more “comfortable” while he attempted to brush her hair. He would allegedly tell young women looking for a position at the nonprofit Priests for Life that his only job requirements were to like seafood and roller coasters, then allegedly pressured an employee to sit between his legs on a log flume ride with other staffers around. 
On a conference trip to Washington D.C., Pavone allegedly knocked on the hotel room of his employee in the early morning and asked to come in. Once inside, he asked her if she would like to “slip into something a little more comfortable.”  When the conference ended, Pavone allegedly wrapped his arms around the employee from behind and said affectionately “I’m not going to let you go.” This behavior is never acceptable in any workplace. It is inexcusable.
His alleged behavior was allegedly reported to different higher-ups at the organization including then Priests for Life’s associate director Fr. Peter West, Fr. Stephen Imbarrato who worked at Priests for Life from 2015-2018, previous Vice Chairman Anthony DeStefano, and the board of directors. [8, 3] According to previous staffer Imbarrato, there was no human resources department and the sexual harassment committee reported to and was headed up by none other than the accused sexual harasser himself, Frank Pavone. (It should be noted, that while Imbarrato is speaking out against Pavone now, that he was accused of making sexist comments including calling female employees “servants.”)  Imbarrato is also alleging that Priests for Life used donations to financially compensate at least one woman.  It appears this unscrupulous ‘pro-life’ organization truly has no lines it won’t cross.
All people who face sexual harassment in the workplace deserve justice for what they experienced. Previous intern at Priest for Life Jenn Morson came forward with her accusations against Pavone’s inappropriate touching stating, “Mr. Pavone too often viewed women as something that existed merely to serve a purpose, whether it was the pro-life cause or his own personal predilections.” 
With that statement in mind, it is all the more jarring that Priests for Life runs several organizations claiming to help women heal after abortion, despite the fact that 95 percent of women say their abortion was the right decision five years later. [12, 13] Rachels Vineyard, a charity run by Priests for Life, holds anti-abortion retreats for women “in search of peace and inner healing.”  The Silent No More Awareness campaign also run by Priests for Life has women who claim to regret their abortions speak publicly about it, often with Pavone in attendance alongside his executive director Janet Morana. [15, 16] How can a man who is alleged to have such little regard for women’s safety be allowed around women in a vulnerable setting in order to spread his anti-abortion agenda? And how can other members of Priests for Life leadership allow this purported abuse of women staffers to go on while claiming they want to “help” women? [15, 17]
Priests for Life has responded to the allegations stating “We have been enormously saddened by recent efforts of some to revisit old accusations that contain numerous inaccuracies, misrepresentations, and mistruths, that have already been addressed.”  The official organization response goes on to call Pavone “Father” despite the fact he is no longer a priest, so they couldn’t even fact check their own official statement. Meanwhile, Pavone is doing what he does best, going on social media tirades insinuating he is being persecuted  and that people should not “regurgitate evils from the past.” Just how many “evils from the past” does Pavone have then?
Pavone allegedly created a work environment from hell. Along with Priests for Life financial issues with the IRS, these allegations put together a picture of a severely corrupt organization that somehow still manages to keep their status and tax benefits as a nonprofit. At a bare minimum, Frank Pavone should be removed from all ties to the organization and an official investigation should be conducted in the details of this alleged abuse; the harm experienced by the women who came forward and many others we may not know about cannot be understated. Pavone displays narcissistic, unhinged, volatile behavior that shows the ‘pro-life’ movement for what it really is. The question now is: how many so-called ‘pro-life’ leaders will continue to look the other way and allow more women to experience harm?
- Pavone, Frank, host. “Voting As Aspect Of Loving God And Loving Your Neighbor!”. End Abortion Podcast, iTunes app, 8 June 2020.
- Pavone, Frank, host. “ProLife MAGA Class With Fr. Frank: Making A Video in Support of the President (7/29/20).” End Abortion Podcast, iTunes app, 29 July 2020.