Suspended Philadelphia Priest Defends Himself

My Fox Philly
February 18, 2011

[with video]

One of the three priests suspended by the Archdiocese Of Philadelphia this week after their names popped in last week's grand jury report on child sex abuse is speaking out.

Father Joseph DiGregorio spoke out on a local radio station on Friday and even took calls from listeners as he tries to defend himself from allegations he says are not true.

DiGregorio is quite adamant that he's done nothing wrong. He appeared on Dom Giordano's show with his attorney Greg Pagano and steadfastly defended himself, saying he hopes he's not being made the fall guy for the archdiocese.

Father DiGregorio has not been charged criminally, but he is trying to clear the air about allegations he and another priest had allegedly sexually abused a young woman 40 years ago while he was stationed at our Lady Of Loreto Parish in Philadelphia.

He was suspended this week by Cardinal Justin Rigali as the diocese reinvestigated allegations against other priests.

That decision came in the wake of last week's grand jury charges against four priests and accusations that the archdiocese failed to identify abusive priests and protect children.

DiGregorio says he was a priest just five months when the alleged incidents occurred.

"Every statement she made concerning me is an absolute lie, completely and totally a lie. I never once touched her, I never once groped her or did anything inappropriate. I was never in her company alone except for times I saw her when she came to the rectory to see him," he said.

"I love my country, I love my church. I am not intimidated by false accusations against my character. I am however angry, very angry and I intend to fight these allegations with every legal means at my disposal. I applaud any group or organization, including snap that seeks to protect minors against any abuse sexual or otherwise by anyone. I also applaud those who seek the truth with honesty," he said.

Father DiGregorio started to cry this morning when a number of parishioners called in to the radio show and expressed support for him. He promises to fight the allegations against him.

He says he was cleared of any wrong doing and has a letter from the cardinal to prove it. He cannot face any possible criminal charges because the statute of limitations has run out.

DiGregorio says he is not hiding behind that. He's done nothing wrong.

Father DiGregorio took a lie detector test, but according to the grand jury, the father's answers were "deceptive"

A review board for the archdiocese ruled in 2006 that the test was inconclusive, but reportedly said the woman's allegations were credible because she had maintained her story through the years.

The same board later reversed itself saying there was insufficient evidence against Father DiGregorio.

He was allowed to continue as a priest at another South Philadelphia parish until his suspension on Wednesday. The archdiocese did not respond to Father DiGregorio's comments.


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