Greensburg Diocese Reveals ‘credible’ Sex Abuse Claims against Priest Convicted of Theft
By Jacob Tierney
August 26, 2020
A priest convicted of stealing money from a South Huntingdon church has been added to a list of suspected sex abusers, according to the Diocese of Greensburg.
Bishop Edward C. Malesic on Wednesday issued an update on the diocese’s handling of sex abuse allegations as he prepares to depart for Cleveland, revealing previously undisclosed allegations against the Rev. Emil Payer.
An independent investigation found allegations that Payer sexually abused multiple minors and adults in the 1980s to be “credible and substantiated,” according to the diocese. Law enforcement officials informed the diocese of the sex abuse allegations against Payer in 2018.
The statute of limitations has passed, which means Payer will not face criminal prosecution, according to the diocese.
Payer did not immediately return a call seeking comment. He had denied the sex abuse allegations, according to the diocese.
Payer was convicted in 2014 of stealing $98,033 from Church of the Seven Dolors.
He was removed from active ministry in 2011, when the theft was discovered, the diocese said. Payer continues to live on diocesan property on Seminary Drive in Unity. The diocese soon plans to revisit Payer’s living situation, according to spokesman Jerry Zufelt.
Payer will be added to the list of 21 other former Diocese of Greensburg priests with credible sex abuse allegations, which the diocese published in 2018.
“Before I leave for the Diocese of Cleveland, it was important to me that I communicate about these matters, and do so transparently to the people of the Diocese of Greensburg,” Malesic said in a statement. “These are, once again, difficult messages to hear. But I am hopeful these announcements will help to assure you of the commitment the Catholic Church has to survivors and to the protection of the most precious gifts among us, our children.”
Malesic also revealed the diocese has paid $5.91 million to settle sex abuse claims with 72 people. That’s an extra $1.56 million across 15 new settlements since October.
Greensburg was among five Pennsylvania dioceses and one archdiocese that established compensation funds for sex abuse survivors following the 2018 release of statewide grand jury report that revealed abuse allegations against 301 priests.
“This is more than a compensation fund,” Malesic said. “This is a commitment to listening to and supporting the same people we have failed to protect.”
Pope Francis in July appointed Malesic as the next bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland. He was installed as bishop of Greensburg in 2015.
Malesic will say farewell to Greensburg in a virtual Mass, which will be livestreamed on the diocesan website, Facebook and YouTube channel at 3 p.m. Sunday.
He will be installed in Cleveland on Sept. 14.
Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .