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Priest Takes To The Airwaves To Proclaim Innocence

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Father Joseph DiGregorio

PHILADEPHIA (CBS) — Father Joseph DiGregorio is determined to clear his name, and he is taking to the airwaves to do it. On Friday morning, DiGregorio appeared on 1210 AM to tell his side of the story, after a grand jury report brought accusations of sexual abuse against him.

“I hope I’m not being made a fall guy,” said DiGregorio on air. “I hope the Diocese would not do that.”

DiGregorio is one of three priests the Archdiocese put on administrative leave as a response to the latest round of sexual abuse allegations.

Before going on the radio, Father DiGregorio sat down only with Eyewitness News for television interview about the allegations.

“Those who have not done anything wrong, and that is me,” said DiGregorio, “I should be a priest. I should be working as a priest.”

Listen to WPHT’s exclusive interview…

According to a grand jury report, in 2005, a woman named “Donna” accused the priest of sexual abuse in 1967 or 1968 at Our Lady of Loreto parish. The report says “[Donna] told Mr. Rossiter, the Archdiocese investigator, that Father DiGregorio molested her on four occasions. … The abuse occurred in the rectory and in the priest’s car, while parked near the airport.”

DiGregorio responded, “I think she told the investigator that she was afraid of me, and now she’s in my car? Does that make any sense?”

“Any statement she made concerning me is an absolute lie,” DiGregorio insisted, “completely and totally a lie.”

“I never once touched her. I never once groped her or did anything inappropriate.”

On the show, DiGregorio took calls from listeners. Linda from South Philly came to his defense.

“I knew you to be just one of the best. The kids could go to you with their problems. Parishioners could go to you,” she said as the priest teared up. “The parish was lost when you left.”

Watch the video…

But others were not as kind when DiGregorio’s lawyer, Greg Pegano, said the statute of limitations on the accused crimes had run out.

“If the father really wants to clear his name,” said one caller, “I think it would be really wrong to hide behind the statute of limitations.”

The priest volunteered for a lie detector test six years ago to prove his innocence. The results were inconclusive. He said he wished it turned out differently.

“I took it. It’s over. It was read. It was inconclusive,” he said, pausing between each sentence. “I go with that.”

Father DiGregorio said some of the accused priests are guilty, but some are also innocent, including himself.

“Let’s be accurate and let’s condemn those who did something,” said DiGregorio, “and not just group or grab a number of priests and we’ll throw them to the wolves. That’s what I think is happening here.”

Reported by Oren Liebermann, CBS 3

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