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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A priest in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has been placed on administrative leave after being accused of sexually abusing a minor.
The Diocese announced Saturday afternoon that Bishop David Zubik has placed 65-year-old Father Joseph Feltz on leave.
Feltz most recently served as pastor of Saint Christopher Parish in Prospect, Butler County. The Diocese says he retired from Saint Christopher Parish in October, but he remained in active ministry.
The priest is accused of sexually abusing a minor in the mid-1980s.
Feltz is among four priests named in 12 new lawsuits filed this week on behalf of victims. Feltz was not named in the grand jury report released earlier this year.
Attorney Alan Perer is representing the victims.
“I think [the fact] that we have four new priests that were not named [in the grand jury report] there shows you that this was a broader and wider system of abuse,” Perer said. “When I talk to people like [the victim], there’s no doubt in my mind that what they tell me is true about the particular priest.”
According to the complaint, the alleged abuse happened when the victim was between the ages of 12 and 18 and attended church at St. Michael’s in Elizabeth, Pa.
The victim says Feltz was one of several priests who abused him and the abuse occurred in the rectory of the church.
According to the Diocese, Feltz has denied any wrongdoing.
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Feltz will not be allowed to engage in public ministry, dress as a priest or otherwise present himself as a priest in good standing.
The allegation will be investigated. If it is deemed unsubstantiated, Feltz’s faculties for ministry will be restored.
A letter from Zubik will be read this weekend at all parishes where Feltz has served. The Diocese says the letter “explains that the Diocese of Pittsburgh will follow its policies and those of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”
“If a determination is made that [Feltz] did what he is accused of, those restrictions will become permanent. If it is determined that the allegation is unfounded, all that is possible will be done to restore [his] reputation and return him to ministry,” Zubik says in the letter.
Victims of clergy sex abuse are urged to contact the Diocesan Assistance Coordinator at 1-888-808-1235 or the Pennsylvania state abuse hotline at 1-800-932-0313.