Greene County Priest Among Three from Pittsburgh Diocese Put on Administrative Leave
August 31, 2018
Three priests in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, including one serving in Greene County, were placed on administrative leave after allegations of sexual abuse of a minor were lodged against them.
The Rev. John Bauer, 71, was accused of sexual abuse of a minor in the 1980s, according to a release issued by Bishop David Zubik.
Officials said the allegation was received on Thursday, and noted that Bauer — and the other priests who have been removed — have denied wrongdoing.
Bauer serves at St. Ann in Waynesburg, St. Hugh in Carmichaels, St. Ignatius of Antioch in Bobtown, Our Lady of Consolation in Nemacolin and St. Thomas in Clarksville. He was named in the nearly 900-page grand jury report issued on Aug. 14, but the diocese did not remove him, noting that he had never been accused of sexually abusing anyone.
The grand jury report indicated in 2013, someone came forward with allegations from the late 1970s and early 1980s, accusing Bauer of giving him alcohol and wrestling with him.
The alleged victim in that case specifically told diocesan officials that Bauer did not sexually abuse him, according to the diocese, and Bauer denied providing alcohol. Zubik said after he read the grand jury report in June, he asked the diocese’s review board to review the case. The board affirmed the decision to keep Bauer in ministry.
The diocese also reported two retired priests, the Rev. Bernard Costello, 81, and the Rev Hugh Lang, 87, have been accused of abuse.
Costello completed his last assignment in 2011, when he was the temporary administrator at Mary, Mother of the Church parish in Charleroi. He is accused of sexually abusing a minor in the mid-1960s. The allegation was received on Aug. 22, officials said.
Lang retired in 2006 as pastor of St. Therese of Lisieux in Munhall. He was accused of sexually abusing a minor in 2001, and the allegation was reported on Aug. 27.
Officials said these were the first allegations received against Costello and Lang.
The diocese, in a statement, said the allegations were reported to law enforcement. Because they are on administrative leave, the priests cannot engage in public ministry, dress as or otherwise present themselves as priests in good standing. Zubik said if the allegations are deemed unsubstantiated after an investigation, their faculties for ministry will be restored.
Removing a priest from ministry while an investigation takes place “does not imply guilt. It is intended to safeguard the course of justice while preserving the rights of everyone involved, including both the person against whom an allegation has been made and the person who made the allegation,” Zubik said in a letter that will be distributed to parishioners at the priests’ current or former churches. “If a determination is made that (the priest) did what he is accused of, those restrictions will become permanent. If it is determined that the allegation is unfounded, all that is possible will be done to restore (his) reputation and return him to ministry.”
Zubik again urged anyone who has been a victim of abuse by anyone representing the church to contact the diocesan assistance coordinator at 1-888-808-1235 or the Pennsylvania state abuse hotline at 1-800-932-0313.
Since the grand jury report was released, the Diocese of Greensburg has also placed two priests on administrative leave after sexual abuse allegations surfaced against them.
On Wednesday, the Rev. Joseph E. Bonafed, pastor at Holy Family in West Newton and St. Edward in Herminie, was placed on leave over 28-year-old abuse allegations.
Bonafed, who formerly served at parishes in Uniontown and Connellsville, was ordained in 1992, meaning the alleged abuse would’ve occurred before he entered the priesthood.
On Aug. 20, officials in the Greensburg Diocese announced the Rev. Michael Matusak, a monsignor, was placed on leave after a woman said he had inappropriate contact with her in the 1990s while he was serving at St. Pius X in Mount Pleasant.
Matusak was the pastor for all four of Uniontown’s parishes.