Priest Takes To The Airwaves To Proclaim Innocence

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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  • Louise Smith
  • Michael Gallagher

    I was falsely accused twelve years ago (1998) by a student I had taught in 1985 here in Abington. The police, with no evidence nor witnesses believed her. I was suspended without pay. MY family and I lived this nightmare for ten months before it was found she was lying (they put her on a polygraph and her story changed).
    Why do these grand juries believe these so called ‘victims’. It is said that if a DA wanted to, he could get the grand jury to indict his own mother. It’s either money or a ‘repressed memory syndrome’ in this priest’s case.

  • Robert

    Be very careful. Similar mistakes happened in Boston. I personally know as a fact two cases that were prosecuted on flimsy evidence. I knew both men to be innocent I am curious to see if Philadelphia gives the Gosnell case as much scrutiny as it has abuse allegations in the church. A little more light on Planned Parenthood please. It could save more children from abuse than prosecuting some cleric on ‘he said, she said’ evidence.

  • Robert

    I have known Father Joe for ten years now and he has always shown himself to be of high moral character. He is a generous, faith filled man who has always served the priesthood with integrity. God Bless You Father Joe.

  • Ann Marie

    Read the book “Sacrilege” about the US priest scandal. I was surprised to read about the disdain that many in the heirarchy of the Church have for the lay people.
    Pedophiles and abusers do not look like monsters. They almost always appear to be gentle, loving people. Perhaps a part of themselves is gentle and loving. The abuser part is always denied. I heard the interview with Father D, and he was inconsistent even in the interview. First he claimed he was never alone with the girl. Later he claimed that he was along with her in a confessional and she gave him pills for the other priest. As for the pills that he claims were darvon…..this entire line of conversation was very strange.
    Father D. benefits from the statute of limitations on this case. The alleged victim enjoys no statue of limitations….she has to live with it every day.
    I am a practicing Catholic and I’ve had enough….time to clean house and put all of them in jail….all the way up to the heirarchy.
    One more thing….I hate to see a man whining about “how hard it’s been on him”. Offer it up, Father….offer it up.

  • jennie

    This is a call to all Catholics!! When is enough enough? If we were Muslim we would have been protesting in the streets!! Ctholics need to stand up for OUR religion! Turn the other cheek yes but voice our strngth alos. We are being targeted, and innocent people are are getting hurt. Yes punish those that are doing wrong, but this is looking more and more like a salem witch hunt!

    Oxford Circle Parishoner

    • ZZbar

      Thats what they have been doing. Turning the other cheek.

  • jennie

    Hey Lynn, I know this priest, for almost 20 years, how can you condemn someone you don’t know? You and that “real” person are sooo ignorant. I have known “father Joe” for many many years this man has done soooo much for this community, and then you gthis want to be on the band wagon and get my face on tv nut acusing a truly innocent man. Does this not remind you of another that was wrongly accused or do you not believe? I am far from a bible thumper but know this, there are truly innocent priets and he is one of them. How i wish I could see your face when you hear it was all a lie. This priest was in 3 wars, he has done a tremendous amount of good a heck of alot more than you I bet. So please find another person to sit back and point your accusitory finger at. Read your own message sweatheart, it says “the children he abused” it ‘s one person accusing him of something that they say happened over 40 years ago! and you have him abusing children, get a life idiot.

    • Sharon

      Jennie, God bless you for loving your priest. I don’t know if he is an abuser. Most abusers do much good for their communities and are well-loved, as was the case with my abuser (now deceased.) He was the hero, and the best pastor we ever had. Except for the small detail about ruining my life. Shame, Jennie, is what silences the abused for 20 – 30 years. It is just not possible to understand how powerful that shame is unless you’ve experienced it. What you know about this priest is what he has allowed you to see. Period. My fellow parishioners saw a hero, and to this day they would defend him as such.

    • Lynne

      Jennie…You’ll be eating crow when the facts come out not me…Remember freedom of speech. Thats the rights we have in the United States. You don’t agree with me and I don’t agree with you! Enough said.

  • real

    You people are crazy….this priest is on the radio singing his little song because he knows theres enough rosary huggin old ladies out there that want to believe his ass…..sick freaks how about if they aint your kid and you dont have kids then dont have any in you house your car or anywhere keep acting like its normal when theres a weird forty year old that lives with his mom coachin your kids hockey team ….michale jackson was normal too right?

    • Lynne

      Real………….I couldn’t agree more!





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