|Pastor Removed after Sexual Abuse Allegations
By Jessica Novak
November 20, 2007
BALTIMORE- When confronted with sexual abuse claims, Little Italy's Rev. Michael Salerno did not admit or deny abusing his accuser.
This is according to a statement released by the Pallottines, a religious order that oversees St. Leo the Great Roman Catholic Church, where Salerno was pastor.
The Pallottines barred Salerno from serving as a priest while they investigate claims he abused a teenage boy in the 1970s. When the alleged abuse occurred, Salerno was a Pallottine brother at All Saints Church in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Pallottines announced Salerno's removal from St. Leo during a parish meeting on Nov. 18.
John Guerriero, St. Leo parish council president, said he and other parishioners ask "Why this person would come up 35 years later?"
Guerriero credits Salerno for resuscitating St. Leo's once-diminishing community over the past 10 years.
"He's a very good man, and 99 percent of the parishioners still believe so and are going to support him as best they can," Guerriero added. "We hope this comes out in his favor."
Salerno, ordained in 1993, is not facing criminal charges, but the allegation has been reported to civil authorities in New York.
"We come forward today with information about this allegation to encourage other possible victims to come forward and to be transparent, as called for in the Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children & Young People," said the Pallottines in their statement. "When informed of the allegation, Father Salerno immediately agreed to obtain counseling and to cooperate with the Church's procedures for handling allegations of abuse."
The Pallottines urge anyone who has any knowledge of any child sexual abuse to come forward and to report it immediately to civil authorities. Counseling assistance is available to anyone affected.
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