Diocese Talks about Priest Removed after "Credible" Sex Abuse Allegation

March 29, 2011

Click here to read Bishop Matthew Clark's paper on preventing sexual abuse of children.

We're learning more about the Rochester priest removed from ministry because of an allegation of sex abuse.

Father Vincent Panepinto is on what the diocese calls administrative leave. The diocese says it received a "credible" allegation of sex abuse against Panepinto. It goes back to the late 1960's.

Click here to read Bishop Matthew Clark's paper on preventing sexual abuse of children.

Today we talked to the person at the diocese specifically set up to takes these cases.

Barb Pedeville says the majority of claims that end up on her desk are credible. Why would anyone want to make this up? Especially in this case that goes back more than 40 years.

"There's nothing to be gained from these people coming forward and telling their experience when they were a child," Pedeville said (meaning the victims have nothing to gain personally other than peace). "There's nothing to be gained for them."

Where the priest worked

Most of the churches Father Panepinto pastored to are closed. He did work at Our Lady of Mercy High School and most recently in the parish of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. That's a cluster of churches including:

- Annunciation on Norton Street.

- St. Michael on N. Clinton Avenue.

- St. Andrew on Portland Avenue.

- And the old Corpus Christi on E. Main St.

That's where Panepinto presided over the November funeral mass of local marine Javier Ortiz Rivera.

The 40 year gap

The allegation against Panepinto goes back to the late 60's. That is just about the same time he was ordained and was serving in the former parishes of St. Philip Neri in Rochester and St. Anthony's in Elmira.

The diocese isn't surprised by the 40 year wait.

"When kids are abused they think it's their fault somehow. They blame themselves. There's shame involved and in the church there are faith and trust issues involved," Pedeville said. "As a result they keep it quiet to themselves for many many years."

But the gap between the abuse and the allegation does not affect how seriously the diocese takes it.

"They want to be heard. They want to be believe and they want to be healed," Pedeville said. "They want to be able to put it behind them and move forward."

What the priest can and cannot do

The dioceses uses a private investigator and a review board (made up of mental health experts and law enforcement) to handle the allegations.

Bishop Matthew Clark met with Father Panepinto on Friday and removed him.

Now he can't:

- wear any clerical clothing.

- say mass.

- live on church property.

- present himself as a priest at all.

He will:

- get his pension and health insurance.

We did learn that the reported abuse back in the 60's did not happen on any church property.

As far as criminal charges go, we are well beyond the statutes of limitations. But regardless of the timing, the diocese passes every case on to to the district attorney's office.


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