Ex-pastor in Charleroi charged with possession of child pornography

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The former pastor of Mary, Mother of the Church in Charleroi, who has faced allegations of sexual abuse but never criminal charges, was indicted this month on one count of possession of child pornography, the U.S. attorney's office in Pittsburgh announced Monday.

David Dzermejko, 64, of Braddock was released last week on $50,000 unsecured bond and barred from computer use and unsupervised contact with children. He had computer files depicting minors engaged in sexual conduct, according to the indictment.

John A. Knorr, the attorney representing Mr. Dzermejko, called him "a wonderful, caring individual" who has pleaded not guilty to the federal charge.

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, in a news release, emphasized that Mr. Dzermejko has been barred from all priestly duties since 2009.

In 2010, Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik found credible accusations that decades ago Mr. Dzermejko abused two males, one of whom was deceased when his parents brought forth the allegation. A third accuser came forward last year.

The release indicated that the diocese turned over all allegations "to appropriate civil authorities."

No abuse charges have been filed.

Mr. Knorr said the federal charge is "entirely separate from any allegations that were made in the past" and urged people not to jump to conclusions just because the diocese found the old accusations to be credible.

"My client believes he did not get a fair shake on the old hearing," he said.

Mr. Dzermejko lived in diocesan housing until January, when the federal search of his quarters that preceded the indictment led to a request that he depart.

Bishop Zubik in the release pledged the diocese's cooperation in the investigation.

On Jan. 4, shortly before the search of Mr. Dzermejko's quarters and two days after the sentencing of priest Bartley Sorensen on charges of possession of child pornography, Bishop Zubik sent a letter to all the priests in his charge reminding them that viewing such materials is "a criminal act for which society will hear no excuse, accept no extenuating circumstances, or grant any mercy."

Sorensen was sentenced to eight years in prison.

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 and Twitter: @richelord. First Published May 20, 2013 1:00 AM


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