Rochester priest place on leave due to allegations of sexual misconduct

February 24, 2019

[with video]

A Rochester priest has been put on administrative leave after he was accused of sexual misconduct with a minor.

Parishioners of St. Christopher Church in North Chili learned at this weekend's Masses that their pastor, Rev. Robert Gaudio, is being investigated over a complaint that he abused a minor in the 1970s, according to a press release from the Diocese of Rochester.

Rev. Gaudio denied the allegation. No other previous allegations of sexual abuse of a minor have ever been received, according to the diocese.

A man is claiming that Rev. Gaudio sexually abused him when he was an altar boy at St. Andrew's Church in Rochester in 1979, according to Leander James, the alleged victim's attorney.

James said his client was 14 years old when the alleged abuse began.

His client maintains that he trusted Rev. Gaudio and that the alleged abuse devastated him and has caused many problems for him.

A full statement provided by James on behalf of his client is at the end of the article.

While Rev. Gaudio is on leave, he can not engage in public ministry. Rev. Edward Palumbos will serve as temporary administrator.

Rev. Gaudio was ordained in 1974. Before serving at St. Christopher’s, he previously served at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Brockport, St. Alphonsus Church in Auburn, St. Andrew's Church in Rochester, Holy Name of Jesus Church in Greece, St. Monica Church in Rochester, and St. Ann Church in Palmyra concurrent with ministry at St. Gregory Church in Marion.

Victims of abuse should always report to the civil authorities. To report a case of possible sexual abuse and to receive help and guidance from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, victims are encouraged to contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator, Deborah A. Housel, at (585) 328-3228, ext. 1555 (toll-free 1-800-388-7177, ext. 1555) or by e-mail to

"I was given an altar boy position at St. Margaret Mary's in Irondequoit, New York. I was a small boy, often picked on, and I felt like this was a great privilege. I felt inspired to be part of God's mass [sic] and privileged to serve for his priests. I served for priests who inspired me and were good to me. My parents moved me to St. Andrews [sic] in Rochester for school in the sixth grade, and I continued to be an altar boy there. My family are [sic] devout, and I went through all the sacraments. At some point, I started serving mass [sic] for Father Gaudio. At first, he encouraged and inspired me. He befriended me. At the time, I believed a priest could do no wrong; that they were God's representative on Earth. I did whatever Fr. [sic] Gaudio said. I trusted him. Eventually, he started touching me like a friend would, putting his arm around me - that sort of thing. Then it progressed. He eventually started doing things to me that made me feel embarrassed, ashamed and hurt. I didn't know what to do. I felt it was wrong. I finally resisted him, which was hard to do. How can you resist God's representative on Earth? When I did, he immediately lost interest in me as an altar boy and as a friend. He terminated me as an altar boy. I was devastated in so many ways. It damaged my self-esteem, stole my faith and left me feeling embarrassed, dirty and ashamed. This was a turning point in my young life. I spiraled downward from there. It caused so many problems as an adult. I've been suffering so much from anxiety over the memories of the abuse. I lost all hope there would be an opportunity for justice. I recently saw a news report of an attorney helping abuse victims through the Diocese's compensation program, so I came forward to him. I'm not running away from it anymore. I have to deal with it. I hope I can get this out of me so I can reclaim my life. I am willing to cooperate with the Diocese's investigation of Fr. [sic] Gaudio. I hope if there are other abuse victims out there that they can come forward and heal. The truth must come out. I am sure there are people who are shocked by this, including Fr. [sic] Gaudio's parishioners. When clergy abuse occurs, it hurts the victims terribly, but it also hurts many others, including the faithful. My heart goes out to them. I thank the Diocese for doing the right thing by removing him while they investigate."


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