Greensburg Diocese Removes Priest Accused of Sex Abuse, Vows to Release Names of Others
By Ivey DeJesus
August 9, 2018
|A report released Thursday by the Diocese of Greensburg reaffirms the commitment of Bishop Edward C. Malesic to continually improve the diocese's youth protection policy. Evan Sanders | Tribune-Review|
One of the Catholic dioceses at the center of a long-awaited report on predatory priests in Pennsylvania on Thursday announced it had placed on leave a priest accused of child sexual abuse.
In a lengthy report released Thursday, the Diocese of Greensburg said it has removed the Rev. James W. Clark from his ministry post back in June amid allegations dating back 50 years.
The diocese made the announcement about Clark in the release of a report updating its youth protection policies, and it pledged to release the names of priests accused of child sexual abuse on the day the report is made public.
"The same day the grand jury report is made public, we will release a list of clergy in our Diocese with credible allegations against them on our website," the Diocese of Greensburg stated in its report, entitled "2018 Progress Update on Protection of Children: Higher Standards of Today's Catholic Church."
The diocese pledged continued transparency with regards to any allegations of child sexual abuse and aggressiveness towards reporting predatory priests to law enforcement. The Greensburg Diocese also apologizes for past mishandling of abusive priests and allegations from victims.
"We are sorry. A sincere and open apology to the survivors of sexual abuse and to all those impacted by the grievous failures of the Catholic Church," the report states.
The diocese is one of six at the center of an impending grand jury report into clergy sex abuse across six of the state's eight Catholic dioceses. The report, which was completed in April, remains under seal while the state Supreme Court addresses the last challenges to the report.
According to the report, the diocese received allegations of child sex crimes involving Clark on June 28. The allegations involve crimes dating back five decades, prior to the priest's entrance into the seminary and ordination. At the time, he was working as a janitor at the former St. James School in Apollo.
The diocese states it reported the allegations immediately to PA ChildLine and to the district attorneys of Westmoreland and Armstrong Counties. The allegation was determined to be credible and substantiated less than 24 hours later. Clark was immediately removed from his assignments as a parochial vicar and hospital chaplain in Uniontown.
In July, another Greensburg priest, Father John Sweeney, who faced charges of child sex crimes, pleaded guilty to those charges. Sweeney, 75, is the first priest convicted as a result of the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury probe.
The Commonwealth has until Aug. 14 to release the grand jury report.
The court is considering last-minute challenges filed by an unspecified number of clergy, who are seeking to have their names redacted from the report. The petitioners claim that their constitutional right to protect their good reputation would otherwise be violated.
In its report Thursday, the Greensburg Diocese states it has improved its youth protection policies over the years, adding that it is vigilant, responsive and constantly improving its "zero tolerance" policies.
The Diocese of Greensburg requires that every report of suspected abuse of a child, young person or vulnerable adult -- sexual, physical or emotional -- that is made to the Diocese, its parishes or schools be immediately reported to PA ChildLine and law enforcement, including the appropriate District Attorney.
Since becoming bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg in July of 2015, Bishop Edward C. Malesic has overseen two separate, independent reviews of diocesan clergy personnel files in order to ensure that no credibly accused clergy or personnel is actively in service in the diocese, according to the report.
The Diocese of Harrisburg last week released its own list of accused priests.
The Diocese of Greensburg covers the counties of Armstrong, Fayette, Indiana and Westmoreland. It has 78 parishes and 51 active priests.