Bishop David Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh called a news conference Wednesday morning to announce that he had been falsely accused of molesting a minor decades ago.
"The fear of every priest is that someone, sometime, somewhere, somehow will level a false accusation against him. That nightmare has been realized for me," he said. "I emphatically state no such behavior occurred, nor any semblance of such behavior. The accusation is false, offensive and outrageous."
Nevertheless, the bishop said, he reported it weeks ago to the Beaver County District Attorney, to the Vatican and, more recently, to the review board that evaluates all accusations of sexual abuse against clergy of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. That board will report its findings to the papal nuncio in Washington, D.C., he said.
Unless the Vatican tells him otherwise, Bishop Zubik said, he intends to continue his duties.
His announcement was highly unusual in that there has been no lawsuit or criminal case filed in the matter, which normally means the information doesn't become public. But his accuser, who is not being named because he is an alleged victim of sexual abuse, posted the accusation on a public blog and briefly posted it on the Facebook page of Quigley Catholic High School in Baden before the webmaster took it down.
Bishop Zubik said he decided he had to address it because it was in the public domain.
The accusation stems from the bishop's tenure as vice-principal at Quigley in the 1980s, when his accuser was a student there. According to the bishop, the former student, whose blog says he is now 45, made the accusation against him in late August after being denied permission to serve as a parish volunteer because of information revealed on a background check required of all parish volunteers.
The bishop said he could not reveal the contents of the background check because everyone who takes it is promised confidentiality
A Post-Gazette reporter was alerted to the blog post on Monday and attempted to e-mail its author with questions. The accuser declined, saying he was going to be interviewed by Nancy Grace of CNN in three weeks.
On his blog post he said he originally went to the diocese with allegations that he had been molested by two other priests. One that he named was the former Rev. Robert Wolk, who was dismissed from the priesthood and convicted of sex crimes in the late 1980s. The other is a former priest who has never been the subject of a lawsuit or criminal case, but who Bishop Zubik said had been removed from ministry many years ago for inappropriate conduct.
The blog account continues that, as the accuser met with Bishop Zubik in the wake of his earlier accusations about molestation, he suddenly remembered that then-Father Zubik had molested him at Quigley.
Bishop Zubik described his accuser as "a complex individual" and said he had no intention of taking legal action against him.
"I assure you that I am concerned about the welfare of my accuser. At the same time, I expect that my integrity and the integrity of the Church I lead will be respected as well. I pledge my prayers for my accuser, and I ask your prayers for both of us," he said.
Ann Rodgers: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1416.