DA Can't Touch Paterson's "Perv" Pastor

By Laura Italiano and Pilar Conci
New York Post

August 5, 2008

Manhattan prosecutors can't go after Gov. Paterson's pastor on child sex-abuse allegations because the claims are too old, officials said yesterday.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office has examined two accusations against Monsignor Wallace Harris and found both fell outside the five-year statute of limitations for sex abuse, DA spokeswoman Alicia Maxey Greene said.

That doesn't get Harris, 61, out of hot water with the Catholic Church, which will have the Archdiocesan Advisory Board probe the alleged abuse at Cathedral Prep Seminary.

Until that panel rules, Harris is barred from performing priestly duties.

Harris has been pastor of St. Charles Borromeo - Paterson's home church in Harlem - since 1989. Before St. Charles, Harris was at Cathedral as dean of discipline.

Archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling declined to reveal where the alleged abuse happened, except to say the first claim traced back to 20 years ago.

"He [Harris] had an awesome sense of humor, but he wasn't a man who tolerated nonsense," said Gerard Fabian Cajas, a 1987 Cathedral Prep grad who backs Harris' claim of innocence. "There were never any rumors, no talk he was doing anything wrong."

In an odd twist, Cathedral Prep was the school once headed by Monsignor Charles Kavanagh, who faced church trial for alleged sexual misconduct between 1978-82. A verdict in his Vatican court trial is still pending.



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