Tucson Diocese Announces Sexual Allegations against a Priest and Nun

By Maria Neider
KGUN [Tucson AZ]
November 21, 2003

The Diocese of Tucson is upholding its promise to report any accusation of sexual misconduct involving church personnel. Friday afternoon, Bishop Gerald Kicanas announced two more cases of alleged sexual abuse against a priest and a now deceased nun.

The Diocese of Tucson has found credible allegations of sexual misconduct against 76-year-old Fr. George Pirrung. Pirrung served at the following four parishes in the Tucson diocese:

Our Lady of Blessed Sacrament in Miami, AZ (1954-1955)

Sacred Heart Parish in Nogales, AZ (1955-1957)

Queen of Peace in Mesa, AZ (1957-1960)

Immaculate Conception Parish in Douglas, AZ (1960-1962)

Pirrung then joined the Diocese of Phoenix in 1969 and retired in 1997.

Bishop Gerald Kicanas says the Diocese of Tucson knows of three reports of sexual abuse against Pirrung. All of the alleged victims were boys. When an alleged victim came forward earlier this year, Kicanas said that prompted the diocese to search for an archive file on Rev. George Pirrung. After looking through the file, the diocese confirmed the victim had initially reported the alleged sexual misconduct in 1966. There is no account of any action taken by leaders of the Tucson Diocese at that time. Kicanas said the file also contained another allegation against Pirrung from a different person. Within the last three months, someone else came forward with another accusation.

The Diocese of Phoenix has suspended Pirrung from active ministry as a result of the allegations.

For the first time in the history of the Tucson diocese, a nun has been accused of sexual misconduct with a boy. Sister Rosaria Riter taught at Sacred Heart School in Tucson from 1949 to 1953. Kicanas says the allegations are believed to have happened during the time she worked at Sacred Heart School. Although Sister Rosaria Riter died in 1996, Kicanas says the diocese determined the allegation was credible. “The purpose of revealing the names of these two individuals, as we have done in the past for any priest accused credibly of misconduct, is to make sure there are no other victims who have been hurt.”

Currently, sexual misconduct allegations have been made against twenty-five priests, one deacon and one nun in the Diocese of Tucson.


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