PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A deacon with the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has been arrested and is facing child pornography and related charges, accused of trying to contact a minor over the internet.
Investigators say the Pennsylvania Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force arrested 73-year-old Rosendo “Ross” Dacal, of McCandless, at his home on Tuesday.
Dacal is facing charges of child pornography, unlawful contact with a minor and criminal use of a communication facility.
Bishop David Zubik, of the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese, says Dacal has been put on administrative leave and suspended from active ministry following his arrest. He was assigned to All Saints Parish in Etna and worked in the Chaplin’s office at the Allegheny County Jail. He was ordained in 2011 and is also a retired attorney and opera singer.
“You know, it’s a tragedy, because you have a man who was married, children, grandchildren, an attorney – since he’s been a deacon was assigned at the Allegheny County Jail, and has served there in the Chaplin’s office,”, Bishop Zubik said. “So, when you take a look at all of that, you say, this is just amazing. It’s such a tragedy because I think it shows what a terrible addiction pornography really is.”
Amy Wadas’ Report:
Dacal was a refugee from Cuba, who came to America in the 1960s, according to the Diocese.
Bishop Zubik says he’s notified both the jail and All Saints, as well as the Allegheny County District’s Attorney’s Office of Dacal’s arrest. He’s facing charges in Washington County.
“Even though Deacon Dacal is being charged in Washington County, I have also informed the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office of his arrest since he lives and has served in Allegheny County,” Bishop Zubik said in a statement.
Bishop Zubik’s statement went on to say: “The charges against Deacon Dacal are disturbing. I have pledged to civil authorities the full cooperation of the Diocese of Pittsburgh in their investigation. We had no previous knowledge of his alleged activities. The Diocese of Pittsburgh continues to work for the protection of children and young people and will not tolerate any behavior that puts them at risk. May we all dedicate ourselves to rooting out the evil of sexual abuse from our society.”
Linda Rudl, who lives just down the street from All Saints Church told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti, “I’m worried and scared because I don’t know if other children are involved in my parish.”
Rudl said she became acquainted with Dacal while attending All Saints.
“He was outgoing and he seemed very helpful, even when he was on the altar,” she said.
According to the criminal complaint, North Strabane Police began monitoring Dacal back in December.
NEW: 73 y/o Rosendo Dacal, Deacon in Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese, arrested 4 alleged inappropriate contact w/cop posing as a minor online.
— Ralph Iannotti (@IannottiRalph) April 11, 2018
Investigators say that’s when he alleged made contact with an undercover officer monitoring a chatroom called Boys Chat.
Between December and April, investigators say Dacal is accused of sending hundreds of sexually explicit and graphic messages to the officer who was posing as a teenage boy. The criminal complaint also reports the suspect sent “at least four one-way video sessions” in which he exposed himself and engaged in other inappropriate behavior.
After further investigation, police put Dacal’s home under surveillance, and on Tuesday, served a search warrant. Police say they seized his laptop, on which they found the conversation history between him and the undercover officer, as well as the user names he’d allegedly been posing under.
Dacal was arraigned after his arrest and taken to the Washington County Jail. He was released from custody on bond and has a preliminary hearing set for April 16.
Dacal’s wife said she had no comment when KDKA’s Amy Wadas went to the couple’s McCandless home Thursday morning. Dacal never came to the door. We also reached out to staff at All Saints Parish in Etna, but they had no comment.
Dacal’s attorney, Robert Del Greco, also had no comment.