Catholic Priest Accused of Sex Abuse Once Served a North Hills Area Church
By Richard Cook
April 11, 2013
The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh recently sent a letter to parishioners at a Wilkinsburg church warning of abuse allegations against a former priest who also once served at a West View parish.
According to KDKA, the accused priest and the alleged victim have both passed away, but the man in his 40s revealed the abuse to his family months before he died.
KDKA reports the man claimed Rev. John Wellinger abused him between 1981 and 1985 when Wellinger served as an assistant pastor at St. James Parish in Wilkinsburg. The abuse started when the alleged victim was 10.
Local church officials confirmed that Wellinger once served at St. Athanasius Church in West View, but referred all other questions to the diocese.
Wellinger also served in Crafton, Pittsburgh, Clairton and West Mifflin, according to the Trib.
Wellinger died two years ago and had not served as a priest publicly since 1995, but WTAE reports he had been connected to other charges of sex abuse in the past.
Diocesan spokesman, the Rev. Ron Lengwin told KDKA that Wellinger was previously accused in 1995 of abuse that allegedly happened in 1989 while he served at Holy Spirit in West Mifflin. While no criminal charges were filed, the accusation did become part of a civil suit.
"In terms of the fact that we thought the previous one was credible, then you would tend to think that there could certainly be credibility here. And we've never really had many allegations that were not credible," Lengwin told WTAE.
In the letter to parishioners, Pittsburgh Catholic Bishop David Zubik asked that other possible victims of Wellinger call the diocesan victim's assistance hotline at 888-808-12135 or the state abuse hotline at 800-932-0313.