"I am angry, very angry…"

Those are the words of a suspended Philadelphia priest, Fr.  Joseph DiGregorio, accused of sexually abusing a teenage girl.  Over the weekend, he took to the airwaves to defend himself:

One of the three priests suspended by the Archdiocese Of Philadelphia this week after their names popped in last week’s grand jury report on child sex abuse is speaking out.

Father Joseph DiGregorio spoke out on a local radio station on Friday and even took calls from listeners as he tries to defend himself from allegations he says are not true.

DiGregorio is quite adamant that he’s done nothing wrong. He appeared on Dom Giordano’s show with his attorney Greg Pagano and steadfastly defended himself, saying he hopes he’s not being made the fall guy for the archdiocese.

Father DiGregorio has not been charged criminally, but he is trying to clear the air about allegations he and another priest had allegedly sexually abused a young woman 40 years ago while he was stationed at our Lady Of Loreto Parish in Philadelphia.

He was suspended this week by Cardinal Justin Rigali as the diocese reinvestigated allegations against other priests.

That decision came in the wake of last week’s grand jury charges against four priests and accusations that the archdiocese failed to identify abusive priests and protect children.

DiGregorio says he was a priest just five months when the alleged incidents occurred.

“Every statement she made concerning me is an absolute lie, completely and totally a lie. I never once touched her, I never once groped her or did anything inappropriate. I was never in her company alone except for times I saw her when she came to the rectory to see him,” he said.

“I love my country, I love my church. I am not intimidated by false accusations against my character. I am however angry, very angry and I intend to fight these allegations with every legal means at my disposal. I applaud any group or organization, including snap that seeks to protect minors against any abuse sexual or otherwise by anyone. I also applaud those who seek the truth with honesty,” he said.

Father DiGregorio started to cry this morning when a number of parishioners called in to the radio show and expressed support for him. He promises to fight the allegations against him.

Read the rest.

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8 responses to “"I am angry, very angry…"”

  1. I grew up in England, and while I was a teenager, a fairly famous actor was accused of rape. It turned out that the accuser lied, and while the accused was cleared, he was imprisoned and assaulted pending trial, and his career never really recovered. Young people are impressionable, and it seared an important point into my mind: People do lie about rape. Sometimes they’re nuts; sometimes they’re mistaken; sometimes they have an incentive (something to gain or an axe to grind). Sometimes—not always—the real victim is the accused. We should be very careful not to jump from accusation to conviction, all the more so given the events of recent years. Perpetrators often lie; but sometimes, accusers do too.

  2. You know the media never puts out the complete story. Thank you for providing this to us Deacon. I will pray for this man. Based on this, I believe him. May God give him strength. I hope and pray the charges to the other two are just as erroneous.

  3. Michael:

    Perhaps you need to explain that comment since the host of this blog worked for the mainstream media for so long.

  4. When I was a brand new kindergarten teacher 50 years ago, a little girl (a discipline problem) went home and told her father that I had slammed her head into the wall. I was called to the principal’s office to explain. Needless to say, all I could do was deny it. That was the end of it, but I have never forgotten it. I still remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach to be accused of such a thing by a 5 year old, because she did not want to sit in the “thinking chair.” Maybe it was the look on my face that gave the principal reason to believe me. We must be careful of what we say about others and to keep our tongues in check.

  5. He said he was never alone with the accuser except at the rectory when she came to see “him”? Who is the “him”?

    I hope he is innocent, but wonder if he was guilty, would he “fess up?”

  6. A few years ago when I was in the Diaconate program at the Seminary, we had a man lead us through a weekend of reflection and learning about poverty. Quite a remarkable guy, and for 25 years the driving spirit behind what may be our city’s largest mission.

    In a discussion of pastoral counseling and the possibility of false accusations, he was asked how one could protect their reputation. His answer was simple: you can’t. Your reputation, he said, is in the hands of others and what happens to it is largely beyond your control if someone takes it upon themselves to harm you. What you CAN do he said is protect your character.

    I think of that when I read stories like this, and while I must admit some uncertainty when dealing with one or another person even when there are rules like “no closed doors” to address the issue, I recognize that the time might come when knowing that I had acted honourably and in a way acceptable to God might have to be enough.

    I pray for the victim(s) of this situation, recognizing that I honour no one by speculating on what might or might not have happened.

    May God bless us all.

  7. DcnDon: You mentioned “no closed doors”. In the RC school I taught in, that was a rule—IF alone with a student there were to be no closed doors. It was a simple rule to follow and in the 10 years I taught , there were never any problems. Such a simple way to help ward off accusations.

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