Allegation of abuse surfaces against former Pittsburgh priest

By Janice Crompton And Peter Smith
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
August 17, 2014

A former Pittsburgh-area priest has been accused of sexually abusing a child more than 50 years ago, and Catholic officials want to know whether there are more alleged victims.

The Rev. John P. Carroll, 86, is now living in a retirement home for priests in the Archdiocese of Boston, but from 1962 to 1972, he served as a parochial vicar at various Pittsburgh churches, including St. Michael Parish in Elizabeth Borough, where the abuse allegedly took place in 1962 and 1963.

Built in 1851, the church was moved and rebuilt in 1987 in Elizabeth Township.

The unnamed victim made the allegation to officials at the Archdiocese of Boston, where Father Carroll had been working as a parish priest since his time in Pittsburgh.

According to the archdiocese, Father Carroll worked at a parish in Arlington, Mass., immediately after his ordination in 1952, then was reassigned to the Boston area after his 10-year stint in Pittsburgh.

Besides his assignment at St. Michael in Elizabeth, Father Carroll served at St. Isaac Jogues in Elrama, Saint Margaret in Green Tree, Saint Susanna in Penn Hills, Saint Alphonsus in Springdale and Saint Denis in Versailles (now Saint Patrick in McKeesport).

Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik wrote this weekend to St. Michael and the other parishes, informing officials of the allegations and urging other alleged victims to come forward.

“I urge anyone who has been abused by any person representing the church to notify civil authorities and to contact the diocese to obtain assistance with counseling to help with recovery from abuse,” Bishop Zubik wrote.

Pittsburgh diocesan officials first learned in 2003 that there was an allegation against Father Carroll. At that time, Boston archdiocesan officials contacted their counterparts in Pittsburgh to say they had received the allegation and wanted to confirm that Father Carroll had been working in the Pittsburgh diocese, as the alleged victim had said.

The Boston archdiocese did not specify the allegation at the time, and even now the diocese does not know the victim’s name, said the Rev. Ronald Lengwin, vicar for church relations for the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

In 2003, the Diocese of Pittsburgh did not make the allegation public.

“That’s something we’ve decided we need to do,” said Father Lengwin. “We need to keep raising the bar. As society learns more about sexual abuse, we’ve said we need to do more.”

That includes alerting parishioners where Father Carroll served to encourage them to come forward if they had been abused, Father Lengwin said.

The diocese released the information now after learning Aug. 5 that the Boston archdiocese was bringing formal canonical proceedings to remove Father Carroll from the priesthood.

While the Boston archdiocese is handling the canonical trial, Bishop Zubik offered to meet with the alleged victim if that person chose to come forward.

“I always want to do so,” he said.



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