3 Priests Removed Permanently in Philly for Sexual Misconduct

Monday, 08 Apr 2013 08:33 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has permanently removed three priests from public ministry over allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct around minors, the church announced Sunday.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said that Rev. Joseph J. Gallagher and Rev. Mark Gaspar had been deemed "unsuitable for ministry due to violations," but offered no details about the accusers or their claims.

A third priest, Msgr. Richard T. Powers, was also removed after he was accused of abusing a 17-year-old girl during an overseas trip 40 years ago. The claims against Powers were substantiated.

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Each of the priests, along with two dozen others, had been on administrative leave since a 2011 grand jury report contended that the archdiocese had failed to act on credible allegations of child sex abuse or misconduct by members of the church.

In the last year, Chaput has restored eight priests to their duties and declared seven others unfit to continue as clerics, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

According to the grand jury report, Gallagher was twice accused of fondling altar boys at St. Mark's Church in Bristol Township, Pa., in the 1980s. One of the accusers, Daniel Neill, killed himself in 2009.

No details were available for the allegations against Gaspar.

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Powers was suspended last year after an internal church document revealed that he engaged in a sexual act with a 17-year-old girl in Venezuela 40 years earlier.

Priests who have been removed have the option of staying in the ministry but living in a restricted setting, and cannot serve as priests publicly or administer sacraments.

All the priests can appeal the decisions to the Vatican.

Related stories:

New Pope Calls for Decisive Action Against Sex-Abuse Priests

Senior Priest Testifies in Own Defense at U.S. Sex Abuse Trial

LA Archdiocese, Cardinal Mahony Settle Sex Abuse Cases

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