Ex-Principal of Roman Named in Sexual-Abuse Complaint

By John F. Morrison
Philadelphia Daily News
July 29, 2008

The Rev. Gerard J. Hoffman, a former principal of Roman Catholic High School, has been named in a sexual-abuse complaint dating back 30 years and has been removed from duty pending a church investigation.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia said that the allegation involves a minor. The church now will determine if the complaint is credible.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia, has relieved Hoffman of his assignment as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, in Doylestown. As of a week ago, he no longer lives at the parish rectory.

"This is the first allegation of sexual abuse of a minor that the archdiocese has received regarding Father Hoffman," Rigali said in a statement released yesterday.

Hoffman, 63, was ordained in 1973. He served at numerous parishes in the Philadelphia region. He was principal of Roman Catholic High from 1993 to 2002, and previously led St. Pius X High School in Pottstown.

Hoffman formerly served as assistant pastor at the Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul, and on the faculty of St. John Neumann High School in Philadelphia.

Other parish assignments were at St. Teresa of Avila, Valley Forge; St. Basil the Great, Kimberton; St. Isaac Joques, Wayne; and King of Peace and St. John the Evangelist, Philadelphia.

An announcement about Hoffman was made over the weekend at the Doylestown parish, Rigali said. Counselors from the Archdiocese Victim Assistance Office were available after Masses. Parishioners were urged to contact the Archdiocese Victims Assistance Coordinators at 888-800-8780, or the Network of Victim Assistance of Bucks County, if they had concerns or if anyone wished to report the sexual abuse of a minor.

Yesterday's statement from Rigali addressed what could become the latest case in a nationwide scandal that first came to light in Boston, where lawsuits and news investigations starting in 2002 revealed that hundreds of priests had molested children from 1950 to the early 1990s.

Those revelations led to investigations in many of the country's 195 dioceses. In Philadelphia, a grand jury in 2006 said that it was able to document abuse of hundreds of children by at least 63 priests in the archdiocese. The church rebuked the report.



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