Queries sent to Pittsburgh-area parishioners, alumni over priest accused of molesting boy
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Parishioners at two churches and alumni of Serra Catholic High School will receive letters asking whether anyone was harmed by a Franciscan priest who served in the 1990s and is accused of molesting a New Hampshire high school student in the 1980s.
Father Michael Ledoux, 55, was pastor of St. Pamphilus in Beechview from 1993 to 1995, principal of Serra in McKeesport from 1995 to 2000 and said Mass at St. Angela Merici in White Oak in 1999 and 2000, said the Rev. Ronald Lengwin, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.
"While the allegation was reported to the Diocese of New Hampshire in 2003, the Diocese of Pittsburgh was not informed until recently," he said. "No allegation was made to us at all while he was in Pittsburgh."
Father Ledoux has been banned from ministry since the Franciscan Friars of the Province of the Immaculate Conception settled his case in 2002. In 2003, he became dean of secular Widener University near Philadelphia.
He resigned last summer after the school learned of his past. His position at Widener involved some administration of its K-7 charter school, although school officials told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he had almost no contact with students.
In an email to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Father Ledoux said he is innocent. The Inquirer reported the allegation Jan. 4.
This weekend, announcements will be made at the parishes where Father Ledoux served, and letters will be sent to members and to Serra alumni. Anyone harmed by Father Ledoux can report it to either the diocese or the Pennsylvania abuse hot line, he said.
Father Ledoux was also a part-time adjunct lecturer at Duquesne University from 1997 to 2000. A university spokesman said the school had no complaints about him.
In 2000, he left Pittsburgh for Neumann University near Philadelphia, where he taught until May 2002. He left Neumann months before the allegation.
In late summer 2002, a man told Father Ledoux's Franciscan superiors that the priest had molested him in 1987 or 1988.
According to attorneys for both the accuser and the Franciscans, his superiors apologized, made a settlement and promised that Father Ledoux would not return to ministry.
Carmen Durso, a Boston attorney for the accuser, said they understood that he would live in a facility for elderly priests and would not leave unsupervised.
"We both thought the guy was out of service and was not anyplace where he would have access to kids again," Mr. Durso said.
Jim Geoly, the Franciscan order's attorney, said he didn't believe that the promise to ban Father Ledoux from ministry included constant supervision.
"I think there was a commitment that he not come in contact with minors," he said. "They understand that they could have done better in the execution of that. He was removed from all ministry, but he was also coming and going in public."
At Widener, he didn't wear clerical garb or do ministry. University officials told the Inquirer that he passed background checks.
"As far as we know, the university did not request references from the [Franciscan] province," Mr. Geoly said.
His Franciscan superiors assumed that his job involved no contact with minors, he said. "Looking back, they wish they had reached out to the university to double-check."
Last year, someone tipped Widener officials about the allegation. Currently, Mr. Geoly said, Father Ledoux "is restricted to a supervised setting so he has no contact with the public."
First Published January 24, 2013 12:00 am