Saturday, October 30, 2010

Priest removed

http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20101011/NEWS/101011046/Priest-removed-from-North-Plainfield-Catholic-church-due-to-sexual-misconduct-allegations
UPDATE: North Plainfield
priest removed from parish
amid sexual-misconduct
allegations

By MARK SPIVEY • STAFF WRITER • October 11,
2010

NORTH PLAINFIELD — The Diocese of Metuchen is
investigating allegations of sexual misconduct by
St. Luke Parish Pastor Gregory Uhrig, who a little
more than three years ago replaced another pastor
who abruptly retired under similar circumstances.

Uhrig, 63, has been removed from service due to
allegations that he sexually abused a minor
approximately 30 years ago, while he was a priest
with the Diocese of Allentown in Pennsylvania,
according to a letter recently sent by Bishop Paul G.
Bootkoski to the St. Luke congregation. Uhrig had
replaced former St. Luke Pastor John Giordano, who
retired after informing parishioners at the Clinton
Avenue church that he didn't want similar
allegations against him, claims he "categorically
denied,'' to disrupt church operations.

Uhrig also is denying the allegations against him,
but he was removed from service due to a church
law that requires such a move as a precautionary
measure when a claim of sexual abuse "has been
deemed to have a semblance of truth,'' according to
Bootkoski's letter.

TRIAL UPCOMING

The allegations first were brought to Bootkoski's
attention several months ago by the Diocese of
Allentown, which also notified law enforcement
there, the letter indicated. Charges were not pursued
because the statute of limitations had expired. A
retired investigator from the Sex Crimes Unit in the
Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office examined the
case, however, as the local Diocese Review Board
interviewed both Uhrig and the accuser, according
to the letter.

Bootkoski wrote that both the investigator and the
board told him that the allegations "were not
frivolous,'' adding that he accepted their
conclusions.

"It is likely that the matter will finally be resolved bymeans of a canonical trial,'' Bootkoski wrote, adding
that Uhrig is considered innocent until proven
guilty and will continue to receive financial support
from the diocese pending the trial.

Giordano in May 2007 told parishioners that he was
retiring, effective immediately, after 30 years of
service at St. Luke. Joanne Ward, a spokeswoman for
the Diocese of Metuchen, at the time said that the
allegations against Giordano were reported to
authorities and investigated by the Diocese Review
Board more than two decades ago.


Bootkoski cited Giordano's case in his letter dated
Saturday, expressing regret that "this is the second
pastor who has left St. Luke Parish under suspicion
of sexual misconduct.''

"If there was anything in (Uhrig's) past that
suggested he might be capable of inappropriate
behavior, I would not have - I could not have - sent
him to you,'' Bootkoski wrote.

According to a biography listed on RCNet, an
organization that works to help Catholic churches in
the U.S. enhance their online presence, Uhrig was
born in Elizabeth, went to school in Reading, Pa.
and attended seminary in Philadelphia and Rome.
Uhrig served 20 years in the Allentown Diocese
under no fewer than four titles before transferring to
the Metuchen diocese, where he served in parishes
in Metuchen, Bernardsville, Somerville and the Iselin
section of Woodbridge Township, the biography
indicated.

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