Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse

December 16, 2011

The Archdiocese of Omaha said Friday that The Rev. Al Salanitro has taken a leave of absence following allegations by a Carter Lake man that he was sexually abused by the priest 1991 to 1994 while Salanitro was pastor at Holy Cross Church.

The Rev. Salanitro, currently pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Bellevue, will remain on leave while the Archdiocese investigates. “We take every accusation of sexual abuse very seriously,” said Deacon Timothy McNeil, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Omaha. “We reported the allegation to local law enforcement officials and the Archdiocesan Review Board.”

The county attorney has turned the case over to the Omaha Police Child Victim Unit. "That's why we report it, we self report and that's why we conduct our own investigations, for the credibility, not just for the church, but for the safety of children and to uphold someone's good name if they're wrongly accused, so we have to balance all of that," said Deacon McNeil. "It's not easy, but it's what we must do."

McNeil said a letter was mailed Thursday to the homes of parishioners and school parents informing them of the allegation, which Salanitro denies. He also sent a letter to parishioners, saying he would take a voluntary leave of absence while the investigation is pending.

“If there is no evidence of sexual abuse of a minor, Father Salanitro will be returned to ministry. If there is sufficient evidence that Father Salanitro committed sexual abuse of a minor, Archbishop George Lucas is obliged to send the case to the Vatican for instruction on how to proceed.”

The 52-year-old Salanitro was ordained by Archbishop Daniel Sheehan in 1989 and was appointed pastor of St. Bernadette in 2006. He also served at the following parishes: St. Francis Borgia in Blair (2000-2006), St. Anne in Dixon and St. Mary in Laurel (1995-2000), Holy Cross in Omaha (1991-1995) and St. Elizabeth Ann in Omaha (1989-91).


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