Sex-Abuse Allegations Sideline Clergyman

Centre Daily Times (State College, PA)
March 4, 2003

STATE COLLEGE &madsh; The senior priest in Centre County's largest Roman Catholic church has been barred from all priestly duties pending the outcome of a sexual abuse investigation.

The Rev. Martin McCamley, who has served as pastor of Our Lady of Victory since 1995, was placed on administrative leave on Friday by the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, said Sister Mary Parks, diocese spokeswoman.

Administrative leave means that the 66-year-old McCamley no longer has parish affiliation and is not permitted to celebrate public Mass, Parks said Monday.

"He is not in any parish. He is not in any ministry. He is not permitted to operate publicly as a priest," Parks said. "This is not a suspension. This is not a move."

The investigation stems from allegations made to the diocese several months ago about an alleged incident 30 years ago. Parents of a former Bishop McCort High School student said McCamley became a friend of the family and shared a bed with their son during a choral festival outing when McCamley was music director at the Johnstown school.

McCamley was transferred from Johnstown to State College in June 1995 to become pastor of Our Lady of Victory, a church with three full-time priests, two deacons and an active laity. The church, at 820 Westerly Parkway in State College, serves about 2,000 families, mainly from the Penn State area.

McCamley could not be reached for comment Monday. Parks said she did not know where he is lodging or how long he might be on leave.

Church office staff members Monday referred media in quiries to the Rev. J.S. Zatalava, one of the two Our Lady of Victory vicars. Zatalava did not return messages seeking comment.

Parks said that during services over the weekend at Our Lady of Victory, priests read to the congregations a statement they said was from McCamley. The statement said McCamley would be on leave until the matter can be settled and his innocence es tab lished and until after he undergoes a psycholog ical evaluation, a parishioner said.

After meeting Monday morning with Bishop Joseph Ada mec, Parks said that, by Saturday, Adamec will post a four-page response on the allegations and the investigation on the diocese Web site, Adamec's statement will not be made available to the media before then, she said.

"His thought is that we need to use our vehicles," Parks said. "We need to respond to our people first."

At Our Lady of Victory on Monday, a church staff member said the mood of the parish was hopeful and positive.

"We know Father well, and he's done a lot for this parish," the staff member said.

In a prepared statement to parishioners Feb. 23, McCamley acknowledged that he and the boy shared a bed in a motel room that had two beds. He said motel operators had told him that he could use the room "only if I used only one bed."

He added: "Absolutely nothing happened that evening. Everything was perfectly normal and proper."

Another Catholic priest in Centre County, the Rev. Robert J. Kelly, pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Philipsburg, has been accused in a different case of molesting an altar boy before being transferred to the Philipsburg church.

Kelly's status as the pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul has not changed, Parks said. Kelly could not be reached for comment Monday.


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