Catholic priest faces charges after being accused of sexually assaulting a child in 1998

Tribune-Review [Pittsburgh PA]

June 29, 2021

By Tanisha Thomas

A Catholic priest is facing multiple charges stemming from an alleged sexual assault on an 8-year-old boy on two occasions 23 years ago at a parish in Plum.

The Rev. Robert Cedolia is charged by Allegheny County Police with aggravated indecent assault, corruption of minors, two counts of indecent assault and one count of unlawful contact with minor.

The accuser, now 31, told county detectives on Oct. 20, 2020, that both incidents occurred prior to his first Holy Communion in spring 1998 at Our Lady of Joy in Plum, according to a criminal complaint.

In the first incident, according to the complaint, the accuser said he was removed from the other students attending the training and taken to the Sacristy room by Cedolia. Because the boy had previously requested to be more involved in Mass as a bell ringer, he thought that Cedolia was sizing him for a robe. But the priest began to feel his body and squeeze his hips, according to the complaint.

The complaint also said Cedolia reached into the boy’s pants and began touching him, despite his efforts to push Cedolia’s hands away. After the assault ended, the complaint said, the boy went downstairs to rejoin the other children and did not tell anyone about it.

The complaint describes the second incident, which happened approximately two weeks later in the church’s bathroom. While in the stall, the accuser said, he felt an arm reach around him, grabbing and covering his face. He was able to see Cedolia out of the corner of his eye, and Cedolia reached into the boy’s pants and assaulted him. The accuser said Cedolia’s only words were “God sees all.”

When asked for comment, the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh provided a statement saying it is aware of the legal process against Cedolia, and the claim was not filed directly through the diocese. The claim was filed through the diocesan Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program. The statement also said Cedolia denies the accusations.

In August 2019, officials of the Diocese of Pittsburgh announced Cedolia was placed on administrative leave following an accusation of sexually abusing a child in the 1990s. At the time, he had been presiding over four parishes in the South Hills. Cedolia remains on administrative leave as the legal process continues, according to the statement.

The diocese said it “will continue to respect the legal process and cooperate fully with any further investigation.”

Tanisha Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tanisha at 412-480-7306, or via Twitter .