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  Priest Removed over Sexual Abuse Allegation from 60s
Accuser Now 53 Years Old

NBC10.com
October 11, 2005

In South Jersey, church officials have removed the pastor of an Atlantic City church.

The Camden diocese said that the Rev. Michael D'Amico sexually abused a boy more than 40 years ago.

D'Amico was the pastor of St. Michael's Catholic Church in Atlantic City. The alleged abuse happened in the 60s, when he was assigned to a church in Westville Grove, N.J.

When D'Amico left St. Michael's last spring, parishioners said they thought it was because of health problems. Now, many are stunned to learn the real reason why he left.

"Extremely hard to believe it," said Marcia Mancini.

Parishioners leaving the church after a midday Mass still had words of praise for D'Amico, despite the 65-year-old priest's removal from ministry by the Camden diocese. The diocese said that it had substantiated an allegation that D'Amico sexually abused a boy 41 years ago, when the child was 13.

"(He is an) absolutely marvelous priest. It's a very, very, extremely difficult concept to understand," Mancini said.

The alleged victim, who is now 54, told the diocese in April that he was abused by D'Amico on several occasions in 1964 at the Most Holy Redeemer Parish in Westville Grove. Over the years, D'Amico also served at Catholic churches in Ocean City, Pleasantville and at Absecon's Holy Spirit High School. He was permanently barred from functioning as a priest on May 1.

"We had no idea until today," said John Jackson, a parishioner.

The diocese didn't make its decision public until after a meeting two weeks ago between Bishop Joseph Galante and the alleged victim, who authorities said now lives in Florida. Diocese officials said that they found the allegation to be credible following interviews with D'Amico and his accuser. Although the diocese notified county prosecutors, authorities said no criminal charges could be filed be the statute of limitations has run out.

"It happened so long ago, if it did happen, it's nothing that he believes in or stands for now," Jackson said.

The diocese said that it has not received any other allegations of sexual abuse against D'Amico. NBC 10 News was unable to locate him for comment. The diocese would only say that he is living with his family at a private residence in South Jersey.

 
 

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