PORT CHESTER (NY)
Raw Story [Washington, DC]
February 26, 2023
By Mary Papenfuss
Donald Trump’s former Catholic priest religious adviser and head of anti-abortion group Priests for Life has been hit with multiple sexual misconduct accusations, according to reports by the Catholic media outlet The Pillar and the Daily Beast.
Vehement anti-abortionist Frank Pavone was ousted from the priesthood — defrocked — by the Vatican in December after he repeatedly disobeyed orders from his bishop to stop posting unspecified “blasphemous” messages on social media. He often posted incendiary political messages, and posted videos of an aborted fetus on an altar.
Now at least four women have reportedly accused Pavone of sexual misconduct.
The complaints concern “inappropriate workplace” behavior, dating from 1999 to 2018, and allegedly included non-consensual touching, lewd suggestions and unwanted sexual advance, according to The Pillar and the Beast. One of the women who accused Pavone of inappropriate behavior is a freelance writer for the Daily Beast who once worked for the priest when she was 22.
When contacted by The Pillar in January about the accusations, a spokesperson for Pavone saidthat “any complaints Father Frank was made aware of” were “resolved satisfactorily.”
At least two former prominent members of the advocacy group Priests for Life have condemned Pavone and called on him to resign from the organization.
Father Stephen Imbarrato, a pastoral team member at Priests for Life from 2015 to 2019, told the Daily Beast in an interview reported Sunday that a woman had complained to him about Pavone’s alleged sexual harassment in the workplace in 2017. He said he counseled her until she quit her job.
Imbarrato also said he reported the accusation to the board of directors of Priests for Life. He told the Daily Beast that the group’s sexual harassment committee was headed by Pavone — “so it was neither safe nor independent,” he noted.
“I only had direct knowledge of one victim, the woman I counseled over a long period of time,” Imbarrato told the Beast via email. “That there were other victims over the years, were to me, suspicions that I could not verify. But I do believe these women who came forward and they are now proof of those suspicions.”
Andrew Smith, who served on the board of Priests for Life from 2014 to 2021, has also called for Pavone’s resignation and for an independent investigation into the accusations.
“I have been very surprised to see the reaction from Priests for Life has been solely one of victimization and self-aggrandizement,” Smith told The Pillar.
Priests for Life said in a statement to the Daily Beast that the group was “enormously saddened by recent efforts of some to revisit old accusations that contain numerous inaccuracies, misrepresentations, and mistruths, that have already been addressed.” Pavone’s bishop “investigated these claims over a decade ago and subsequently confirmed him to be in good standing and fully suitable for ministry,” the statement added.
Priests for Life called the allegations by Imbarrato “further falsehoods,” according to the Daily Beast.