Defrocked Nesquehoning Priest Charged with Sexually Assaulting Boy in 1981
By Manuel Gamiz Jr.
The Morning Call
January 2, 2013
|The Rev. Bruno Tucci has been charged with sexually assaulting a boy in 1981 in Maryland. (Morning Call file photo / January 2, 2013)|
Bruno Tucci, who served in Nesquehoning, molested boy in Maryland in '81, police say.
A former priest with the Allentown Catholic Diocese removed from active ministry in 2002 amid sex-abuse allegations has been charged in Maryland with sexually assaulting a boy at the shore in 1981, authorities said.
Bruno M. Tucci, former pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Nesquehoning, faces two counts in Ocean City, one for committing a sexual assault and the other for child abuse by a custodial person, police said.
Tucci, 70, faces a preliminary hearing Jan. 16 in Worcester County district court.
He was among numerous priests investigated in 2002 by prosecutors in the five counties that make up the Allentown Diocese, diocese spokesman Matt Kerr said. The district attorneys concluded none of the priests could be prosecuted because the statute of limitations had run out.
Unlike Pennsylvania, Maryland has no statute of limitations for sexual assaults.
Michael Levy, public affairs officer with Ocean City police, said police began their investigation in late November and the charges were filed Dec. 11.
He said the investigation found that Tucci took a boy to a motel or private residence in Ocean City in August 1981 and sexually assaulted him. Levy said many details about the crime and the investigation are being withheld because of the nature of the crime.
Ocean City police are alerting local authorities in case there are other victims who were sexually assaulted in Maryland, Levy said. He said Tucci traveled to Ocean City several times for recreation and now lives in Maryland.
"If there are any other victims, they should certainly come forward," Levy said. "Don't hesitate to get in touch with police. While there is a statute in Pennsylvania, he can be prosecuted here, and we don't have the same statute of limitations."
Tucci taught at Holy Name High School in Reading from 1977-79 and Central Catholic High School in Reading from 1979-81. He was also in residence at St. Columbkill Church in Boyertown in 1977, Most Blessed Sacrament in Bally in 1977-78 and St. Peter's in Reading from 1978-81.
He was then administrator of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Nesquehoning. In 1987 he was named pastor of the church and pastor of Immaculate Conception Church, also in Nesquehoning.
Kerr said Tucci was removed from active ministry in 2002 because he had been accused of sexual abuse and was defrocked in 2007. Kerr said the diocese cooperated in the Ocean City investigation, just as it did locally a decade ago.
In 2002, the diocese allowed the district attorneys in Lehigh, Northampton, Schuylkill, Carbon and Berks counties to review the personnel files of two dozen priests who had been accused of sexually abusing children. Prosecutors found no evidence of wrongdoing in the failure of church officials to report the allegations to police, because they were not required until 1995 to report child abuse cases. The names of the accused priests were kept confidential.
The statute of limitations in Pennsylvania has since been extended to give prosecutors more time to file charges. In Pennsylvania, the criminal statute of limitations for child abuse ends when the victim turns 50, which was raised from age 30 in 2007. However, the new law only applies to victims who turned 18 in late August 2002.
Anyone with information about Tucci should contact Ocean City police Detective Brett L. Case at 410-723-6632.
Daniel Patrick Sheehan contributed to this story.