March 02, 2015

Catholic Priest From Beaver County Suspended Following Allegations Of Abuse

religion

A Catholic Priest from a parish in Beaver County was suspended by Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik today, after allegations of abuse were made against him dating back to the late 1990s.

A statement released by the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh announced that Bishop Zubik has placed Father John Fitzgerald, 66, pastor of Our Lady of Peace Parish in Conway, on administrative leave pending further investigation into an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.

Diocesan officials say they met yesterday with an individual who alleged abuse by Father Fitzgerald in the late 1990s. The church subsequently reported the allegations to the district attorneys of Allegheny County and Lawrence County, where the abuse was alleged to have occurred.

Jack Fitzgerald is a retired Lieutenant colonel with the United State Air Force. Fitzgerald served for 23 years, stationed for his entire career at the 171st Air Refueling Wing in Moon where he ministered at the base.

Father Fitzgerald also served as Chaplain of the Pittsburgh International Airport from 1994 until 2009.

Fitzgerald has denied committing any acts of sexual abuse, and no other allegation against him have been reported to the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The Archdiocese of Pittsburgh says that while he is on administrative leave he cannot administer the sacraments, dress in clerical attire or identify himself as a priest.

Parishioners of Our Lady of Peace were read a statement by Bishop Zubik informing them of the allegations, saying in part, “If a determination is made that Father Fitzgerald did what he is accused of, those restrictions will become permanent. If it is determined that the allegation is unfounded, all that is possible will be done to restore Father Fitzgerald’s reputation and return him to ministry.”

Bishop Zubik is asking anyone with information on the matter to contact authorities. The Pennsylvania state abuse hotline is 1-800-932-0313.

In the meantime, Father Fitzgerald has been provided temporary residence away from his church. “Removing Father Fitzgerald from ministry does not imply guilt. It is intended to safeguard the course of justice while preserving the rights of everyone involved, including both the person against whom an allegation has been made and the person who made the allegation,” Bishop Zubik wrote in a statement.

Along with notifying law enforcement about the allegations, the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh has begun preparations to convene an Independent Review Board. Under Church law and diocesan policy, when allegations of sexual abuse are made an independent board comprised of psychologists, lawyers, parents of victims and pastors, investigate the matter to advise on whether the priest is suitable for future ministry.

Back in 2011, a Beaver County man accused Bishop David Zubik of committing acts of sexual abuse against him when he was a student at Quigley Catholic High School in Baden. Beaver County District Attorney Anthony Berosh later held a press conference announcing an investigation by his office determined those accusations had no merit.

About The Author

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John Paul is a Beaver County native and the founder of BeaverCountian.com He reports full-time for the Beaver Countian, specializing in investigative journalism with an emphasis on public corruption.

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43 Comments

    1. Profile photo of flo
      flo

      Faggot?? P:edophilia has nothing to do with homosexuality Mike Buchanan!! Just because you are a homosexual does not automatically make you a child molester. They are 2 distinctly different things.

       
      Reply
    1. Correct

      It’s a big deal regardless of if the accused is a priest or not. It’s an even bigger deal considering that there is a history of institutional sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests. Couple that with the fact that the Church claims to be a moral authority makes it a huge deal.

       
      Reply
  1. RonaldDebbie Mahnick

    Is that true Why the victim keep secret until last min Bullshit The victims wants Biggest Gold money Dr Phil from the TV programs said that the children are called GOLD DIGGERS cause the kids want modern technology equipment that the parents can not afford or refuse to buy Again BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT

     
    Reply
    1. Correct

      If you read the article, you would see that the alleged abuse happened during the 90’s. This would make the accuser an adult now. Thus your rant on “GOLD DIGGER” children is unrelated.

       
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  2. Eric Neice

    I hope you don’t have children fuckwad. Roman Catholicism is a disease. I hope every priest that molested children suffers the most cruel punishment possible

     
    Reply
      1. nina bartoletta

        Liberalism has NOTHING to do with any of this. However, your IGNORANCE of the issue is very telling.

         
  3. Dennis Pittser Jr

    Innocent till proven guilty went oit the window years ago. Welcome to Napoleonic code America where accusation equals guilt in the tiny minds of the general population.

     
    Reply
  4. Tyler Fleming

    Wow, and when I come here talking about the italian pedophile pope worshipers, people think i’m nuts. We don’t need any more stupid catholics around, this is the 21st century. Send the italians back to where they belong.

     
    Reply
  5. Tyler Fleming

    In exchange for a few years of cheap labor by letting the nasty Italians in, the US got an eternity of pedophile pope worshipers and rabid anti science catholics. Send them back NOW

     
    Reply
  6. Judy Jones

    It takes a ton of courage to come forward and take action about being sexually abused. This is not an easy thing to do, but it is extremely rare that a child predator has only one victim. Some have many. Child predators need to be kept far away from kids forever, so let’s hope that anyone who may have knowledge or may have been harmed by Fr John Fitzgerald, will find the courage to come forward, get help, and contact law enforcement.

    Your silence only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.
    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, 636-433-2511, snapjudy@gmail.com
    SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

     
    Reply
  7. Donna Williams

    wow and not everyone who is catholic is Italian!!! I swear this rag has a bunch of hateful, bigoted , racists, who speak nothing but hate!!! but I do agree if he is proven guilty he should go to jail like everyone else would!

     
    Reply
  8. Economy Elephant

    Wow – Ronald / Debbie Mahnick , please go take an English course before you post again! Everyone is dumber after trying to read your gibberish! Good god!

     
    Reply
    1. Raven

      The Mahnicks are a deaf couple, who use sign language, and English is their second language. That doesn’t excuse the profanity and very negative comments, though.

       
      Reply
      1. Ivan E.

        Huh??? Deaf folks can’t read or write proper English due to their deafness??? How could they have read the article to comment, then? Not quite getting the point, but will give benefit of doubt

         
  9. accordingtome

    Is there any relationship between the accuser in this case and the one who accused the bishop? I hope if this was the same person the church would have weighed the lack of credibility before suspending the priest.

     
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  10. Concerned

    WOW! So many comments from people who show their true colors! I worked with Father Fitzgerald at the 171st for many years. I would never suspect him of such an atrocity. My prayers are with him as well as with the alleged victim. If Father Fitzgerald is guilty, he should be treated as a criminal once found guilty. And if he is not guilty, his accuser should be treated as a criminal.

     
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  11. cindy

    How sad. Sad for the accuser, sad for the accused. I say sad for the accuser if the accusation is true and sad for the accused if it isn’t! There are only three people that know the truth , God, the priest and his accuser.I think instead of everyone passing judgement we need to wait to hear the facts. In the meantime we also need to pray that the truth comes out and the innocent party can begin to heal and put their life back together.Oh by the way Mr. Fleming, I am a catholic and I am proud of my faith and neither I or other Catholics worship the Pope. Mr Fleming I feel sorry for you, you sound like a very bitter person. If someone in the Catholic church hurt you I am sorry and I will pray for you . Please do not judge everyone by the actions of one individual.Sexual abuse can be committed by people regardless of their religion, age or sex. I am not defending those priest who are were found guilty of sexual abuse or the cover ups that have happened in the past. The church has policies in place now to deal with sexual abuse that occurs within the church.There is now a zero tolerance policy and the church is being open and cooperating with law enforcement when these accusations come to light. Again all I am saying is we should not pass judgement without knowing the facts.

     
    Reply
    1. Nobama

      Mr. Fleming is probably a Muslim, or a Muslim sympathizer. Now go kill a baby and have fun with your 72 or whatever virgins you moronic asshole.

       
      Reply
  12. Profile photo of eddiemerchant
    eddiemerchant

    It is not surprising that there would be a plethora of vulgar poorly thought out comments left on this wide open site. What continues to amaze me is that the posters of this garbage attach actual names to their posts. It’s as if there’s some perverse pride in being stupid.

    Please, think before you hit the send button and realize that once you put something out there, it’s out there forever. Your children and grandchildren will eventually see these remarks, and some will make judgments about you based on what you post here. People all over the world view this site and some of what’s posted here casts all Beaver Countians in a bad light.

     
    Reply
    1. Profile photo of Nikki
      Nikki

      Their names are usually attached because they are commenting on the article through the FB link, not through the beavercountian directly. It also links that comment with their FB profile.

       
      Reply
      1. Profile photo of eddiemerchant
        eddiemerchant

        Thanks for that bit of information. I’ve gone to my face book account and blocked these fools. I can find enough destructive relationships on my own, there’s no point in letting known morons peek into my life. Discovered a common connection in one case, which makes me think I ought to re-evaluate that connection.

         
      2. Profile photo of Nikki
        Nikki

        @eddiemerchant: Glad that info could help. Sadly, I found it out the hard way. Oh well. Live and learn. LOL

         
  13. eddiepgh

    I would say that in cases of molestation/rape etc that you shouldnt release the accuser or accused names. if this turns out to be a false claim how can you give the guy his reputation back. no one will say oh thats the guy who was cleared of any wrong doing. no it will be oh hes the guy who was accused of touching little kids.

     
    Reply
  14. Todd Duffy

    There are some very dumb people making comments here. Your hatred for Catholics is misguided. I am a devout Roman Catholic and agree that anyone who committed such an act or hid such an act from authorities should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, mainly because of the amount of trust that is placed in them by the parishioners. They should be held more accountable than the average citizen, just as a teacher or a police officer should. With that said, those types of acts don’t represent Catholicism or the teachings of Christ. It’s a small fraction of the Catholic community which soils the reputation of the rest of the church, which does unbelievable amounts of good worldwide.

     
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    1. Nobama

      You have to excuse Mr. Fleming. He was a abused child. Or a Libtard, which classifies him as someone who has a mental illness.

       
      Reply
  15. georgiesguns

    If anyone knows of Zubik abusing : The Pennsylvania state abuse hotline is 1-800-932-0313..

     
    Reply
  16. Raven

    @Ivan E.: Some Deaf use standard English quite well. Some with severe/profound deafness find expressive English, spoken and/or written, very difficult. Receptive English is “easier”, in that pairing of meaning/recognition with symbols, speech, letters and words is more possible. ASL is also a different language used for Deaf communication, and the vocabulary, body movement and syntax are quite different than standard English. What is in correct order in ASL can be an incorrect order in standard English. The two languages do not directly translate into one another.

     
    Reply
  17. John

    whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?f nobody knows what happened. people here have commented about the Catholic faith, focusing on the bad. there is good and bad everywhere.

     
    Reply

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