3 Philadelphia Priests Named In DA Report Suspended

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is placing three priests on leave, investigating them and 34 others, and making more changes in response to last week’s scathing grand jury report on clergy sex abuse.

Fathers Joseph DiGregorio, Stephen Perzan, and Joseph Gallagher have been placed on administrative leave.  Their alleged misdeeds are detailed in the grand jury report (see related story) and are now being held as examples of 37 priests still in active ministry, despite what the grand jury found to be “credible” abuse accusations against them.

“I’m confident that both the archdiocese and the Cardinal (Justin Rigali) are committed to responding to this issue properly to protect children,” says Gina Smith, a veteran former Philadelphia prosecutor of child sex assault cases who has been hired by the archdiocese to take another look at sex abuse allegations against priests in the Philadelphia area, and review the church’s response.  Church investigators had previously said they could not substantiate the allegations.

Smith says she has been given the “freedom” as an outsider to do that job.

In a statement, Cardinal Rigali admits “there is still much to do” to prevent abuse and help victims, but he says the church does “understand the gravity” of these crimes against children.

A city grand jury last week charged four current or former priests and a teacher with raping boys in the late 1990s or endangering children by covering up the crimes.

Smith is a veteran of the Philadelphia district attorney’s office, which issued last week’s grand jury report.

Following today’s announcement by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, an advocacy group for victims of priest sex abuse calls the steps outlined by the archdiocese “very belated and begrudging.”

“We would feel much more reassured if Rigali did what he and his brother bishops promised to do long ago, which is to suspend the credibly accused priests first — all of them — and then look more closely at the allegations,” said David Clohessy, the executive director of SNAP (“Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests”).

He says the sex abuse prevention policies and reporting procedures at dioceses across the country have a history of rarely guiding the behavior of church officials, and he says today’s moves by the archdiocese merely reflect a pattern of church officials acting only when pressured to do so by bad publicity.

“Based on months and months of research and evidence and testimony, these 37 men are in fact credibly accused child molestors, and should be removed from ministry — and should have been removed a long, long time ago,” said Clohessy.

Reported by Ian Bush, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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  • Maria

    I think it is very difficult to be a priest in this day and age. I pray for them constantly because although there are those who are guilty and I am sure there are, there are also those who can be accused unjustly, especially if the person is an old priest. Like what will prevent someone into saying,’ that priest abused or raped me.’ Anyone just about anyone can come up and say that, and if you are an old priest, how will you defend yourself against this kinds of allegations. How will you prove yourself innocent if this is something that they say happened a long time ago. How does one disprove something that did not occur? I think there is a MAJOR PLOT to go after the catholic church through their priests and even those who are innocent are vulnerable to be accused as this is now starting to look like a ‘priests-hunt’ thing. But with faith hope and love, I believe that the one true church (Jesus Bride)will remain even if it is now following the footsteps of it’s groom through crucifixion. It will remain standing as it had these past 2000 years as many churches and religion come and go and it will remain so until Jesus second coming because HE loves his church, after all it is Jesus who founded it and none can destroy it, not even it’s priests.

  • http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2011/03/09/philadelphia-archdiocese-suspends-21-priests-in-renewed-probe-of-sex-abuse-claims/ Philadelphia Archdiocese Suspends 21 Priests Following Renewed Probe Of Sex Abuse ClaimsCBS Philly

    […] At that time, Rigali stated that the Archdiocese planned a re-review of the 34 other cases of priest child sex abuse cited by the grand jury’s review of those files as being credible (see related story). […]

  • http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2011/03/08/21-local-priests-suspended-in-renewed-probe-of-sex-abuse-claims/ 21 Local Priests Suspended In Renewed Probe Of Sex Abuse Claims « CBS Philly

    […] At that time, Rigali stated that the archdiocese planned a re-review of the 34 other cases of priest child sex abuse cited by the grand jury’s review of those files as being credible (see related story). […]

  • The usual suspects

    Throw all these booty bandits under the jail.These priest will not receive any jail time for there crimes.They will be given another church to ruin.Let’s do the math,Mike Vike goes to jail for killing dogs ( which is wrong).These priest are destroying children an nobody is protesting.Whatever

  • CatholicGirl

    Let’s address the poor children who are tarnished for life at the hands of priests.

    Imagine being raped by a man whom you were taught to respect from the eyes of a child. A child being passed around by three men – I want to vomit just thinking of it. And some want us all to be ‘tolerant’? Really?

    Tell me how you want to explain tolerance to a little boy who had an adult man sodomize him? How do you want a child to be tolerant of the most vile act bestowed upon a human being? Why should parents of a molested child be tolerant of a religion that has no interest in protecting children from predators?

    The Vatican used record time making a statement against women becoming priests. In contrast, the Vatican’s response to repeated global priest scandals is so slow, it’s basically in reverse. This tells me the Catholic Church is quick to protect the old boy’s network and remains uninterested in protecting children.

    This is about a group of men in an organization where they are free to rape, intimidate, hide their secrets, and get away with it all. Oh, and use parishioners money to pay for their crimes.

    When Rigali said Catholics think the church doesn’t understand the seriousness of child abuse by priests, he indicated that they, in fact, do. Really? If they did, everything would come to a screeching halt to ensure this NEVER happened again.

    I hope the priests who molest children and all of the priests who continue to look the other way suffer exponentially for their heinous crimes. May God bless our children and keep them in His care and give these priests what is coming to them. I know my God and trust that what goes around, comes around.

  • john

    Get them all jobs with the TSA.

  • Green Bean

    Oh, but, the Cardinal’s video statement from last weekend stated that the grand jury report was false when it claimed that there are still priests with sex allegations against them in ministry. Riiiiiiiiiight! And I have a waterfront property in Arizona I can sell ya’, too. When will these stupid sheep stop going to mass and turning over their checks to these snakes!?! Money talks, and that’s the only thing that talks, because their consciences sure don’t, SO STOP GIVING THEM MONEY! Fools!

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