Catholic Priest Removed from Bath Church Amidst Sexual Misconduct Allegations
By Civil lawsuit
June 27, 2018
The Allentown Diocese has removed a Catholic priest from ministry following allegations that he encouraged a teenage boy to masturbate while being counseled online by the priest.
Florida-based attorney Jeffrey Herman filed a lawsuit in Philadelphia Tuesday against Monsignor Francis Nave, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown and Bishop Alfred A. Schlert in connection to the alleged 2012 incidents.
Nave, who served as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Bath, was removed from ministry on Wednesday after the Diocese said it learned of the allegations.
"The Diocese of Allentown was unaware of this lawsuit or these allegations. As required by our Zero Tolerance Policy, we notified law enforcement (Wednesday). We will remove Msgr. Nave from ministry today, pending the results of the investigation," according to a statement released by Diocese spokesman Matt Kerr.
The lawsuit indicates the 16-year-old victim was from Virginia.
The lawsuit alleges Nave initially contacted the victim in 2012 through a gay social media website. The boy reportedly told Nave that he was 16 years old, depressed, had low self-esteem and suffered sexual and emotional abuse at home, according to court papers.
Nave reportedly told the teen that he was a priest and that it was his job to counsel people through their problems. The lawsuit alleges that Nave eventually convinced the victim to conduct online counseling sessions through Skype or FaceTime.
The victim alleges that Nave convinced the boy during some of the counseling sessions to get naked and masturbate while on camera with the priest. Nave is accused of also getting undressed and masturbating online, according to the lawsuit.
The victim took screen shots of the sessions, one of which shows a fully clothed Nave talking to the boy. Another screenshot allegedly shows a naked Nave touching himself and talking to the teen, who was also naked.
Herman, the victim's attorney, said the teen reported the interactions with Nave to law enforcement.
In a prepared statement, Herman praised the victim for coming forward and blasted the Catholic Church for continuing “business as usual."
“This brave young man is coming forward to expose a sexual predator in a position of power at
the Diocese of Allentown," Herman said in a statement. "He hopes to prevent future victims. It is appalling that in 2018 there are still sexual predators in the Catholic Church disguising themselves as men of God. This is another good example of why the (Pennsylvania) Attorney General’s Report on priest sex abuse should be immediately released."
Colonial Regional police Chief Roy Seiple said Wednesday that his department is not currently investigating the alleged incident. Colonial Regional covers Bath borough, where the church is located. Seiple said his department will first refer any such charges to the Northampton County District Attorney's Office.
Kerr, the Diocese spokesman, said the Allentown Diocese notified he county district attorney's office on Wednesday of the allegations.