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New Accusations Against Priest in Northumberland County

Dec 23, 2002 |

Imagine sitting in church and learning, your priest is an admitted child molestor. That's exactly what happened Sunday in Northumberland County. On Monday, word came there may be another victim.

Officials from the Diocese of Harrisburg said Father Joseph Pease recently confessed to molesting a young boy from our area nearly 30 years ago. The Northumberland County District Attorney said another man has come forward saying he too, is a victim of the same priest. "Sexual predators do not molest just one person, and we knew that there would be addditional victims," said District Attorney Tony Rosini. He called Father Pease a sexual predator. The D.A. explained Father Pease was in charge at Saint Paul's Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church near Mount Carmel in the early 1970's.

That's near the time Pease sexually molested a young boy, according to Rosini. He said a man from the Harrisburg area heard about the priest's recent confession and came forward. He told investigators he had been abused by Father Pease while he practiced in a Harrisburg area church.

"He was a people's priest, he was a great, great person, we were devasted by that, no question about it"said Jazz Diminick. He called Father Pease a friend. But he admits, he's stunned the man he saw nearly every Sunday for the last seven years would hurt children. "For them to be hurt by anyone, in any shape or form, I can't put up with that. Then when you hear something like this, it's just so traumatic," Diminick added.

The allegations against Father Pease aren't the first for the Diocese of Harrisburg. A spokesperson said it heard allegations seven years ago.

Bishop Nicholas Dattilo of the Harrisburg Diocese wrote a letter to parisioners at the Divine Redeemer Church in Mount Carmel. In it, the bishop told churchgoers allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of Father Pease came first in 1995.

The priest was confronted about the allegations and denied any abuse. The church asked him to undergo a professional assessment. "The results of that evaluation, which included medical, spiritual and psychiatric examinations, provided insufficient basis to resolve the discrepancies and to determine guilt," explaind Bishop Dattilo in the letter.

The Diocese of Harrisburg told parisioners, that two weeks ago, the victim provided additional details. When Father Pease was confronted after the more recent accusations, the church said, he admitted to inappropriate sexual contact.

The Diocese of Harrisburg claimed this is the only instance where Pease has faced these accusations,but it will invesetigate today's allegations.

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