|Former Delco Priest Accused of Sexually Abusing Minor
By Timothy Logue
May 11, 2010
A Catholic priest who served at two Delaware County parishes has been accused of sexually abusing a minor, according to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
“Cardinal Justin Rigali has received and reported to civil authorities an allegation that Rev. Monsignor George J. Mazzotta sexually abused a minor more than 40 years ago,” the archdiocese said in a prepared statement. “This is the first such allegation that the archdiocese has received regarding Monsignor Mazzotta.”
The monsignor served at St. Eugene Church in the Primos section of Upper Darby from 1980-1985 and St. Madeline Church in Ridley Park from 1997-2008. He was listed as pastor emeritus in the most recent St. Madeline weekly bulletin.
Dave Bodden and Frank Gwynn, both long-time parishioners at St. Madeline, have known Mazzotta for 13 years and do not believe the allegations about their former pastor are true.
“I was absolutely shocked at the allegations,” Bodden said. “It just brought me to tears. It’s outrageous, over 40 years ago, all of a sudden somebody comes up and says something like this.”
Gwynn said he is heartbroken by the allegation.
“I don’t believe it is true,” Gwynn said.
Both men describe Mazotta as a kind, caring, loving and sensitive priest, always willing to help people he comes in contact with.
According to the archdiocese, Mazzotta, 72, spent the last two years serving as parochial vicar at Stella Maris Parish in South Philadelphia. Pending the completion of a formal investigation, Rigali relieved Mazzotta of his assignment and he is now residing at Villa Saint Joseph in Darby.
There were no additional details about the alleged incident or where it took place, though the timeline suggests it was during Mazzotta’s years at St. Joseph Church in Downingtown, where he ministered for five years after he was ordained in 1966.
Donna Farrell, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, had no additional details Monday night, other than to say that authorities contacted by Rigali were located in Chester County.
The archdiocese said anyone in need of assistance can contact the Victim Assistance Office for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at 888-800-8780 or email@example.com.
David Clohessy, national director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests and Other Clergy, said Rigali needs to do more than forward a complaint to law enforcement.
“Rather than minimize the priest’s alleged crimes — by stressing ‘one allegation’ and ‘40 years ago’ — Rigali should work hard to find others who were hurt by Mazzotta and who could, by contacting police, possibly get this possible criminal charged, convicted and jailed,” he said.
“It’s inexcusable that Rigali makes no mention of the need to call law enforcement if you have any knowledge of or suspicions about misdeeds or crimes by Mazzotta.”
Clohessy added that Rigali should “personally visit each parish where this priest worked, and begged anyone with information to call police officials, not church officials.”
The archdiocese said an announcement was made this past weekend at Stella Maris Parish regarding Mazzotta and counselors from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Victim Assistance Office were available after Masses. Rigali said Mazzotta has agreed to refrain from the public exercise of his priestly ministry during the investigation.
Mazzotta has also served at the following parishes and schools: Epiphany of Our Lord, Philadelphia and St. Maria Goretti High School (1971-1976); St. Gabriel, Philadelphia (1976-1978); St. Clement, Philadelphia (1978-1980); St. Eugene, Primos (1980-1985); St. Paul, Norristown (1985-1988); SS. Cosmas and Damian, Conshohocken (June 1988-November 1988); St. Robert Bellarmine, Warrington (1988-1990); and Mother of Divine Grace, Philadelphia (1990-1997).
Correspondent Barbara Ormsby contributed to this article.
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