October 15, 2012
RESOLUTION IN CASE OF PRIEST ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced today that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., has made a final decision in one of the cases of priests placed on administrative leave following the February 2011 Grand Jury Report.
Archbishop Chaput has decided that Father Joseph DiGregorio is suitable for ministry based on reports of the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) led by veteran child abuse prosecutor Gina Maisto Smith and a further examination by the Archdiocesan Review Board which had similar findings. A rigorous investigative process involving more than 20 experts in child abuse did find that Father DiGregorio violated The Standards of Ministerial Behaviors and Boundaries more than 40 years ago but that there is compelling evidence that makes him suitable for ministry.
The MDT reports stated that that there have been no complaints about Father DiGregorio in more than forty years, there is no evidence that he poses a danger to children, and there is no indication he had or would engage in a pattern of behavior that would necessitate his removal from ministry. Based upon recommendations of the MDT and the Review Board, Archbishop Chaput made the final decision.
Announcements were made this weekend at Stella Maris Parish and St. Martin of Tours Parish, both in Philadelphia. Counselors were present. Unlike the resolution of other cases which have already been announced, greater detail was provided in this case due to its already public nature. In order to protect the individuals involved in this matter though, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is unable to provide further information about this case.
Father DiGregorio's case followed the same procedure as all other cases of priests placed on administrative leave following the February 2011 Grand Jury Report. Prior to an investigation conducted by the Multi-Disciplinary Team, the case was submitted to the appropriate local district attorney's office. After being released by the district attorney, an investigation was conducted by the MDT. The results of the investigations were provided to the Archdiocesan Review Board (ARB). The Review Board is a consultative panel that advises the Archbishop throughout the process of addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors and violations of The Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries, evaluating clerics' suitability for ministry, and the continual review of Archdiocesan policies and procedures related to these matters.
Archbishop Chaput said, "In making this decision I relied on the counsel of the Archdiocesan Review Board and the Multi-Disciplinary Team. The experience of these experts who have devoted their lives to addressing the societal evil of sexual abuse is critical to the work we do. All cases are unique and contain various factors that require careful consideration. This one was no exception.
Based on the facts of Father DiGregorio's case, a thorough external investigation, the fact that no other complaints were reported in an atmosphere where the public was largely aware of the situation, and that thorough clinical evaluations from competent outside authorities indicate he poses no danger to minors, I found him suitable for ministry."
On May 4, 2012, and July 6, 2012 Archbishop Chaput announced resolutions in 14 of the cases of priests on administrative leave. Of the 14, seven priests were found suitable for ministry and seven priests were found unsuitable for ministry. In one additional case, the priest died before a full investigation could be conducted so it was not possible to reach a conclusion. All of those cases followed the same process of review; release by the district attorney, investigation by the MDT, review by the ARB and final decision by the Archbishop. More information regarding those announcements is available at http://archphila.org/HHHIC/hhhic.htm.
With the decision announced today, the Archdiocese will continue the initiative entitled Honesty, Healing and Hope in Christ: Confronting Sexual Violence in Our Archdiocese, which was introduced in May 2012. Once a case is resolved the initiative begins at the parish level and consists of four phases over six months. Its purpose is to address the wide variety of reactions, thoughts and feelings that will be experienced as a result of this announcement and in the days and weeks moving forward. It identifies three primary stakeholders: the victims of the allegation or violation of The Standards of Ministerial Behaviors and Boundaries, the parishioners, who include school and Parish Religious Education Program (PREP) families, and the priests on administrative leave. Through the implementation of this initiative, the Archdiocese continues a journey of honesty, healing and hope toward the restoration of trust.
The remaining 9 administrative leave cases are not being announced today for a variety of reasons. The Archdiocese referred all of its cases to the local district attorney. Three cases have not yet been released by law enforcement so the internal Archdiocesan investigation led by the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) cannot begin yet. Four cases were released by law enforcement over the past several months and are currently under investigation by the MDT. In one case there was an arrest. In other cases, the Archdiocese has received release from the district attorney, the internal investigation is complete, and the matter is awaiting examination by the Archdiocesan Review Board or a final decision by Archbishop Chaput.
Due to the ongoing process there is no indication as to when the resolutions of the remaining cases will be made, however the Archdiocese is anxious to announce them as soon as possible.
As part of its efforts to bring this process to a conclusion, the multidisciplinary team has located, gathered and reviewed more than 400,000 pages of relevant documents, identified, located and interviewed 244 witnesses, across the United States and in several foreign countries, and conducted countless site visits to parishes and schools where incidents were alleged to have occurred. Many cases involved a search for additional evidence including yearbooks, parish records, photographs and public documents. Some cases dated as far back in time as 40 years, which posed significant investigative challenges.
Biographical Information on Reverend Joseph L. DiGregorio
Father DiGregorio is 72 years old. He was ordained in 1966. He served at the following parishes and schools: Our Lady of Loreto, Philadelphia (1966-1970); King of Peace, Philadelphia (1970); Bishop McDevitt High School, Wyncote (1970-1971); Saint Anthony of Padua, Ambler (1970-1971); Saint Thomas Aquinas, Philadelphia (1971-1976); Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, Philadelphia (1976-1977); Annunciation, B.V.M., Philadelphia (1977-1982); Saint Paul, Philadelphia, (1982-1987); Saint Maria Goretti High School, Philadelphia (1983-1988); Epiphany of Our Lord, Philadelphia (1987-1988); Military Chaplain, United States Army (1988-2005); Saint Martin of Tours, Philadelphia (2005-2010); Stella Maris, Philadelphia (2010-2011); placed on administrative leave (2011).
To Make a Report
If you would like to report a violation of The Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries, contact the Archdiocesan Office for Investigations at 1-800-932-0313.
If you would like to report an allegation of sexual abuse, contact your local law enforcement agency and/or the Office for Investigations at 1-800-932-0313.
We recognize that this public notice may be painful to victims of sexual violence. If you need support or assistance, victim services are available to you through the Victim Assistance Office of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at 1-888-800-8780 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cases of administrative leave following the Grand Jury Report: 26
Resolutions announced on May 4th: 8 (one priest died prior to a full investigation) total of 9
Resolutions announced on July 6th: 6
Priests on Administrative Leave who Were Arrested: 1
Resolutions announced today: 1
Cases remaining: 9
For additional background information please visit http://archphila.org/HHHIC/hhhic.php.
Director of Communications