Washington County Pastor Placed on Leave While Investigation Proceeds

By Michael Hasch
June 18, 2009

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has placed the longtime pastor of a Washington County parish on administrative leave while it investigates allegations that he sexually abused a minor more than 20 years ago.

The Rev. David Dzermejko, 61, who has served for 18 years at Mary, Mother of the Church parish in Charleroi, was placed on leave Monday after the diocese determined there was "some semblance of truth" in the allegations, said the Rev. Ronald Lengwin, spokesman for the diocese.

Dzermejko, who has denied the allegations, remains pastor but will not perform any pastoral duties until a full investigation by the diocese has been completed, Lengwin said Wednesday.

Lengwin said the statute of limitations for criminal charges has passed, but that the diocese must determine if Dzermejko remains "suitable for ministry."

While the investigation is under way, "retired Auxiliary Bishop William Winter will provide pastoral care for parishioners," Lengwin said.

Lengwin said the allegations do not involve Mary, Mother of the Church parish, where Dzermejko, a native of Braddock, served as parochial vicar until becoming pastor 10 years ago.

Lengwin did not say if a man or woman came forward with the allegations or where the alleged abuse occurred.

He said the diocese learned of the allegations late last week and met with Dzermejko on Monday. The priest was placed on administrative leave that day and a letter was mailed to parishioners, Lengwin said.

If there is any question about the validity of the claims after the investigation is complete, the matter will go before a review board of experts, who will hear from the person who made the allegations and Dzermejko, Lengwin said.

The review board's recommendation goes to Bishop David A. Zubik for a final decision.


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