Diocese of Greensburg Announces "Credible and Substantiated" Child Sex Abuse Allegations against Priest

By Greg Reinbold
Latrobe Bulletin
August 28, 2020

The Diocese of Greensburg on Wednesday announced that a priest convicted of stealing money from a South Huntingdon Township church has been added to a list of clergy who have had “credible and substantiated” allegations of child sexual abuse lodged against them.

The Most Rev. Edward C. Malesic, JCL, bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg, issued a statement announcing the Rev. Emil Payer is alleged to have sexually abused multiple minors and vulnerable adults in the 1980s while serving in the Diocese of Greensburg. Payer was removed from ministry in August 2011 following allegations of financial improprieties. He pleaded guilty in 2014 to theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and theft by deception, among other charges, in connection with nearly $100,000 taken from {span}Church of the Seven Dolors{/span}.

Bishop Malesic noted that since his installation as Bishop in 2015, he has directed two independent reviews of the diocese’s clergy personnel files. While the reviews, according to the diocese, did not reveal any credible and substantiated allegations of prior sexual misconduct by a priest actively or currently serving, the reviews “did reveal no less than twenty-one current living and deceased priests who served within the Diocese who, although no longer in active ministry, did have one or more ‘credible and substantiated’ allegations of child sexual abuse lodged against them.”

According to the announcement, the Diocese of Greensburg was informed in October 2018 by law enforcement of two allegations made directly to PA ChildLine accusing Payer of child sexual abuse.

The Indiana County District Attorney and state police determined that the allegations, which dated back to the mid-1980s, were beyond the statute of limitations for criminal charges.

In early 2019, the Diocese contracted an independent investigative firm to conduct the preliminary canonical investigation to determine whether the allegations were credible and substantiated.

“A group of mostly lay leaders and several clergy belonging to an independent diocesan review board reviewed the results of this independent canonical investigation,” according to the announcement.

The board determined the allegations were credible and substantiated, although Payer repeatedly denied the allegations.

Payer continues to live on diocesan property in Unity Township, although the diocese plans to revisit Payer’s living situation, according to spokesman Jerry Zufelt.

The Diocese of Greensburg last year announced details of a Comprehensive Reconciliation Initiative to help survivors of clergy sexual abuse, including a Survivors’ Compensation Program, which is an opportunity for survivors to have personal interaction with an objective program administrator, as well as counseling, spiritual guidance and pastoral care for anyone impacted by clergy abuse in the Diocese of Greensburg or elsewhere.

To date, the diocese has reached settlements with 72 survivors totaling $5,908,293.

“I want to be sure we do everything possible to assist survivors in the healing process,” Bishop Malesic said. “Their stories, their pain and their anguish have had a tremendous impact on me. This is more than a compensation fund. This is a commitment to listening to and supporting the same people we have failed to protect.”

Pope Francis in July appointed Bishop Malesic as the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland. Pope Francis appointed Bishop Malesic to be the fifth bishop of Greensburg on April 24, 2015.

“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. 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.” Bishop Malesic said.

Bishop Malesic’s farewell Mass will be livestreamed from Blessed Sacrament Cathedral at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30. The Mass will be available for viewing on the diocesan website,, Facebook and YouTube.

He will be installed as the 12th Bishop of Cleveland at a Mass at 2 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14 at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral in Cleveland. The Mass will be livestreamed on the Diocese of Greensburg website and Facebook.








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