Manhattan Pastor Forced to Step down Amid Abuse Allegations


August 4, 2008

[with video]


Parishioners are standing by the longtime pastor of a Manhattan church, who was forced to step aside after being accused of sexual abuse dating back 20 years.

The New York Archdiocese said it ordered Reverend Monsignor Wallace Harris to give up his post at Saint Charles Borromeo Parish in Harlem until the Archdiocesan Advisory Review Board has studied the charge and made its recommendations to the Archdiocese.

The Archdiocese said Harris denies the charge.

The matter was handed over to the Manhattan district attorney's office. The D.A.'s office said that the original accusation, along with another it uncovered, are both outside the statue of limitations for sex abuse. As a result, the pastor will not be charged.

Parishioners said they cannot believe the accusations.

"I've noticed him and observed him. His work and his life are very virtuous," said one parishioner. "So I would not think for him to do such a thing as that because he doesn't carry himself like that."

"My son has been an altar boy forever. He thinks the monsignor is one of the best people," said another. "He thinks the monsignor is king of this neighborhood. Ask anybody else. I'm telling you. He's one of the best persons."

Harris delivered an invocation at Governor David Paterson's swearing in back in March, and served as the event coordinator for Pope Benedict XVI's Sunday Mass in Yankee Stadium in April.

According to the church's website, Harris had served there since 1989.


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