Parishioners React to Sex Abuse Allegations

By Dave Bohman
April 15, 2012

Parishioners at a church in Carbondale attended morning mass with a heavy heart.

This week, the Diocese of Scranton removed their regular priest from ministry after an individual claimed the long time priest committed a disturbing crime several years ago.

For parishioners at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, difficult just doesn't do justice to their situation.

Reverend Russel Motsay had been serving there, conducting mass for 16 years.

After an adult claimed Father Motsay sexually abused him as a child, the Diocese of Scranton removed the popular priest from ministry.

It's left some in the congregation in Carbondale, like Phyllis Covaleski in shock.

"Father Motsay is a native of this parish. We've known him forever. He graduated with my brother, and there's no way we believe this," said Covaleski.

To the diocese of Scranton, the truth will take an investigation.

Father Brian Clarke said he can reassure parishioners, but cannot tell them when the situation will be settled.

"There's an investigation that's taking place, until then, we just ask people to continue to be patient," said Clarke.

Many said their own private prayers for Father Motsay during the service.

When the service was over, people either believed the allegations were not true or they hoped the allegations were not true.

"Pray for him, and really hope that everything comes out in the wash, that everything is ok for him," said Covaleski.

Father Motsay's accuser claimed the sexual abuse happened in Wayne County, where the District Attorney's office is now conducting its own investigation.


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