Diocese: Sex Abuse Allegations ‘credible’ against 4 Pittsburgh-area Priests
By Megan Guza
November 27, 2019
A review board has found sexual abuse allegations against four Pittsburgh area priests credible enough to forward them to the Vatican, a Diocese of Pittsburgh spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Bishop David Zubik has agreed not to return the three living priests to the ministry in the meantime.
The Rev. John Bauer and the retired Rev. Bernard Costello were placed on leave in August 2018. Bauer is accused of abusing a child in the 1980s, according to a statement released when he was placed on leave.
An earlier allegation against Bauer had been included in the August 2018 state grand jury report, but officials said last year it was discounted “because the victim said Bauer did not sexually abuse him.”
Costello is alleged to have sexually abused a child in the mid-1960s.
According to a 2001 notice from the diocese, Costello was moved from parochial vicar at Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Harrison to the same position at Mary, Mother of the Church in Feb. 5, 2001.
He retired from the Charleroi parish in 2011. The allegation was levied Aug. 22.
The Rev. Joseph Reschick, of St. Rosalia in Pittsburgh’s Greenfield, was placed on leave in October 2018, though diocesan officials provided no information regarding when the alleged abuse took place. They noted only that it was the first allegation leveled against Reschick.
A fourth priest, the Rev. Richard Lelonis, was placed on leave in November 2018, accused of abusing two children in the 1970s and 1980s. He died Oct. 20, according to diocesan spokeswoman Ellen Mady.
The allegations against the four priests all surfaced in the weeks and months following the scathing grand jury report accusing multiple dioceses across the state of covering up decades of abuse by hundreds of priests. The victims, the report found, totaled in the thousands.
The Diocese of Pittsburgh has an independent review board to which it forwards all allegations of abuse, which also go to the District Attorney’s Office, Mady said in a statement.
That board, she said, “found that, based on the evidence brought forward, the accusations are credible.” The cases now go to the Vatican, which will review the cases “and issue a decision regarding their future clerical status.”
Removal from the ministry means a priest is not allowed to engage in ministry, cannot administer the sacraments, cannot dress in clerical attire and cannot identify himself as a priest.