Suit Settled Involving Renegade Priest

By Adelle M. Banks
October 15, 2009

Washington (RNS) The Archdiocese of Washington has settled a sexual abuse suit involving charges against George Stallings, a priest who broke away from the Roman Catholic Church two decades ago to start a separate African-American Catholic group.

Miami lawyer Adam Horowitz announced the settlement Tuesday (Oct. 13) in a 2008 suit brought by his client, [name redacted], 40, of southern California. [redacted] alleged that Stallings, the former pastor of St. Teresa of Avila Church in Washington, and seminarian Joseph Skelton sexually abused him when he was 14 years old.

“Our client is relieved to put this part of his life behind him and direct all of his energy toward the healing process,” Horowitz said. “Of course, we remain troubled that these two abusive priests remain in some type of ministry instead of in jail.”

Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the settlement totaled $125,000, including attorney’s fees.

“We take any allegation that comes in seriously,” she said, noting the suit was filed against the archdiocese but not the two men. “We follow it through fully and do our best to resolve it.”

Gibbs said Skelton was not affiliated with the archdiocese or assigned to the Washington congregation. Horowitz said Skelton is now in ministry in a Catholic church in the Philippines.

Stallings, who did not immediately return a call requesting comment, was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church in 1990, a year after he founded Imani Temple in Washington as the headquarters of the African American Catholic Congregation.

More recently, he has married a member of the Unification Church and supported controversial efforts by now-excommunicated Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo of Zambia to advocate for dropping the Vatican’s celibacy requirement for priests.

Stallings was consecrated as a bishop by Milingo along with three other clergymen at his church, in a 2006 ceremony that prompted the Vatican to excommunicate the participants.


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