Community Reacts to Alleged Priest Sex Assault

September 27, 2010,0,7510628.story

[with video]

Shock and disappointment sums up the feelings of some Roman Catholic parishioners in Schuylkill County after news that two Catholic priests have been removed from their duties because of child sex accusations.

The findings were made by the Diocese of Allentown and have given to prosecutors in three counties.

Some of the anger against one priest began last year when the Diocese of Allentown ordered the demolition of Saint George Catholic Church in Shenandoah. The priest who oversaw the project was Monsignor Bernard Flanagan, one of the now accused priests.

The church removed him from ministry after finding evidence that he sexually abused a child 25 years ago.

Charles Vascavage and Bruce Popalis were part of a group that took Monsignor Flanagan and the diocese to court, trying to stop the demolition. They want more information about the sex allegations. "He's not one of our favorite people but we never thought he's be brought up on these type of charges," Vascavage said.

Parishioner Bruce Popalis agrees. "I was dismayed, disillusioned, disappointed that something would happen in our church in our community," he said.

Father Andrew Ulincy was also removed from his duties as a priest. He is accused by the church of sexually abusing a child 29 years ago.

One of the parishioners close to Father Ulincy is Mary Prosack. She is deeply religious. A picture of Pope John Paul II sits in her home. She said the sex accusations against Father Ulincy is the talk of Frackville. "It's not only me, it's all the people of Frackville. We all loved him, well I don't hate him, but I never thought anything would happen like that," she said.

Sometimes prosecutors are barred from charging someone when a long period of time has passed but defense lawyer Joseph Nahas said a change in the law may allow police to arrest Monsignor Flanagan and Father Ulincy. "The prosecution may, may be able to prosecute until that minor, who was a minor at the time, reaches the age of 50 as an adult," Nahas explained.

There is no word if the priests will face criminal prosecution in court.


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