|Priest Accused of Sexually Abusing Minor
By Christina Kristofic
July 29, 2008
DOYLESTOWN - A Doylestown priest has been suspended pending investigation into allegations that he sexually abused a minor more than 30 years ago.
The Rev. Gerard Hoffman, who has served as assistant pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel since 2002, moved out of the rectory last week. His suspension was announced to the congregation at Masses on Saturday and Sunday, and counselors from the archdiocese were on hand to talk to parishioners.
This is the first allegation of sexual abuse that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has received about the 63-year-old priest.
Criminal charges have not been filed.
Archdiocese director of communications Donna Farrell said, "If an adult comes to us and says that they were a victim of abuse many years ago, we're very deferential to the victim, and adult victims have the right to decide whether there's a contact to the civil authorities."
The archdiocese always reports sexual abuse allegations to police if the victim is a minor.
Farrell said she could not provide any information about the victim, the incident or where Hoffman was serving at the time of the alleged abuse.
The incident would have occurred soon after Hoffman was ordained in 1973 at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.
Since his ordination, Hoffman has served on the faculty of St. Pius X High School in Pottstown, St. John Neumann High School in Philadelphia and Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia. He has served as an assistant pastor at Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. He has also served at St. Teresa of Avila in Valley Forge, St. Basil the Great in Kimberton, St. Isaac Jogues in Wayne, King of Peace in Philadelphia and St. John the Evangelist in Philadelphia.
Farrell said the archdiocese is conducting an investigation into the allegation.
She did not know how long the investigation will take.
"Every situation is different," Farrell said. "We proceed with great care and great deliberation. But we do hope to do it as quickly as possible to bring it to resolution."
When the investigation is complete, a review board will make a recommendation to Cardinal Justin Rigali regarding Hoffman's position and the cardinal will make a recommendation to the Vatican.
While the investigation is going on, Hoffman is not allowed to celebrate Mass publicly, wear a clerical collar or present himself publicly as a priest.
Christina Kristofic can be reached at 215-345-3079 or ckristofic@phillyBurbs.com
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