PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The man accused of trying to extort money from the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh was in court this morning.
Allan Dunlap agreed to plead guilty to a harassment charge in exchange for agreeing to stay away from Bishop David Zubik and to get out of town.
Police charged him with devising a plot to make claims of sexual abuse by priests and to extort money based on those claims.
The Allegheny County District Attorney says his office and the Diocese thought this was the best way to handle the case.
“Across this country it’s not uncommon that members of the clergy are shaken down so to speak. This came in as an attempt to extort money from the Diocese of Pittsburgh,” said District Attorney Stephen Zappala.
“As we do in every case, we talk to the potential victims, and the church in this case – the diocese in this case said that we recognize that there are some mental health issues and because of that they wanted to plead this out and let this guy go back to his home, which I believe is in Montana.
Although Dunlap declined comment on camera, he later called the KDKA newsroom saying he is an honorable man.
The original criminal complaint says his interaction with the Diocese of Pittsburgh began in 2003 when he sent a letter to then-Bishop Donald Wuerl, alleging he was abused by two priests.
But by 2007, the complaint says he admitted to the next bishop, David Zubik, that the allegation was not true. Still, Dunlap solicited money, making claims of abuse from churches and Catholic charities and got money from the Diocese for counseling all totaling $28,000.
He also continued to try to meet Bishop Zubik, even showing up at his residence.
The district attorney and the Diocese agreed to plead the case and end Dunlap’s stay in Pittsburgh. Part of the agreement is that he keeps at least 1,000 feet away from Bishop Zubik.