Priest Faces Allegation of Sexual Assault; Community Support Group Gathers

By Ashley Koe
November 19, 2007

Rev. Gary Zalenski said he was shocked and devastated after learning that an allegation of sexual assault had come forward against him. He's been placed on administrative leave, and he explained to NEWS9 exactly what he's going through.

"I have become more and more emotional and trying to calm down and get somewhat of a control of my life," Zalenski said. And his parishioners tells NEWS9 they feel emotional as well.

"It's awful, I can't believe all this has happened," parishioner Marilyn Olexa said. "We said a prayer for Father Gary to give him strength to get through this. He's a wonderful priest."

Word of the allegation against Zalenski is quickly spreading across the valley, and this isn't the first time an allegation has surfaced from within the Catholic Church.

In fact, there have been allegations that have gone on to be proven cases of abuse by priests nationwide. So many, that there's a support group called the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"The biggest thing's not being believed," SNAP worker Judy Jones said of those victimized by priests.

NEWS9 also talked with a man abused by a priest who said he lost the ability to trust other people after being victimized, and he now lives his life for others like him.

"I seek justice, not so much for myself, but for other sexually abused victims," he said.


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