Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese places deacon on leave over allegation
July 08, 2019
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has confirmed it placed a deacon on leave pending an investigation into “an allegation of inappropriate conduct with a minor.”
The deacon, John C. Miller, of St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Ross, was placed on leave in 2018, according to the Rev. Nicholas Vaskov, diocesan spokesman.
Deacon Miller was accused of an unwanted kiss to a minor girl, the “first such allegation ever made against him,” according to a statement from Father Vaskov. He was placed on leave, forbidden from doing ministry or presenting himself as a deacon, while the investigation was pending.
The case required a preliminary investigation, “which was delayed due to grave health issues Deacon Miller was facing,” said Father Vaskov.
The deacon faces a “canonical process,” or proceedings under church law. Under current policy, any clergy found to have engaged in substantiated cases of sexual misconduct with a minor are barred from ministry.
Deacon Miller has denied the allegation, he said.
“His case is being forwarded to the proper Vatican offices for further determination regarding his status as a member of the clergy,” Father Vaskov said. “He remains on administrative leave.”
The incident was alleged to have occurred in 2016 but brought to the attention of the diocese in 2018, he said. The Allegheny County District Attorney’s office confirmed receipt of the allegation but said by policy it cannot comment on investigations.
Deacons are a form of Roman Catholic clergy; they can preach and preside at some sacraments, though not Mass. Deacon Miller was ordained in 2011.
The case is the latest of several allegations to surface against both current and deceased clergy since the August 2018 release of a grand jury report into the history of sexual abuse in Pittsburgh’s diocese and others.