Prominent Harlem Pastor Accused of Molesting Children Has Resigned, "Will Never Again" Be a Priest

By Corky Siemaszko
New York Daily News
September 16, 2010

Wallace Harris, shown in this 2000 file photo in his rectory on 141 St.

A prominent Harlem pastor who was accused by a retired NYPD cop and nine other men of molesting them when they were kids has resigned.

Monsignor Wallace Harris was the highest-ranking black cleric in the New York Archdiocese - a high-profile priest who arranged the 2008 Mass at Yankee Stadium for Pope Benedict and gave the invocation at Gov. Paterson's swearing in.

Now Harris, who was once considered for appointment as a bishop, could be defrocked by the Vatican.

For now, Harris remains an ordained priest but he "will never again publicly function or present himself as a priest," Archbishop Timothy Dolan in a letter to parishioners at St. Charles Borromeo Church on West 141st St.

The Chicago-based Survival Network for Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) blasted Dolan for "quietly and deceptively" letting Harris resign and not laying his crimes out to his flock.

"Harris should be on record as 'permanently removed from ministry due to multiple credible child sex abuse reports,'" said Barbara Dorris of SNAP.

"Instead, because Dolan is so callous and reckless, Harris will go around presenting himself as a retired priest, which of course opens many more doors to families and positions of power and access to kids."

Harris, 63, who had been pastor there since 1989, was suspended two years ago after former Officer Eric Crumbley, 42, and two other men, told officials they had been molested by the priest back in the 1980s.

At the time, Harris was a teacher at Cathedral Preparatory Seminary, a high school on the Upper West Side.

Seven more men came forward and told the Manhattan district attorney's office they too had been molested by Harris. But the DA's office said it could not charge the priest because the statute of limitations had run out.



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