Lawrence Co. Priest Accused Of Sexual Abuse, Placed On Leave


A priest who recently served as a pastor in Lawrence County has been placed on administrative leave after being accused of sexually abusing a minor.

Bishop David Zubik says the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh learned of allegations made against 74-year-old Father James Downs on Thursday.

Downs is accused of sexually abusing a minor in the early ’90s when he served as the chaplain to the former Youth Development Center in New Castle. The allegation has been reported to law enforcement and according to the Diocese, no prior victim has ever come forward against Downs.

The Diocese says Downs denies the allegation.

Downs served as pastor of Christ the King Parish in Bessemer/Hillsville and Saint James the Apostle Parish in Pulaski until he retired in July 2018.

Priests on administrative leave may not engage in public ministry, dress as priests or otherwise present themselves as priests in good standing.

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