Priest accused of abusing orphans
The Rev Joseph Maurizio Jr, 69, pastor at Our Lady Queen of Angels Church, allegedly travelled to Honduras to engage in sex with children while promoting missionary work with the poor.
According to this report, the Pennsylvania priest was arrested this week by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
Documents reveal that the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown and law enforcement agencies first learned of the allegations five years ago.
Church officials, the Attorney General’s Office and the FBI were all declining to comment Friday.
Maurizio spent two decades working with orphaned children in Central America. Homeland Security investigators say some of those same children were his victims.
Said David Clohessy, national director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
We see this very, very often with child-molesting Catholic clerics. They gravitate toward communities or countries where kids are especially vulnerable.
In July, an investigator interviewed several of Maurizio’s alleged victims in Honduras.
In one case, court records say a victim known as John Doe 3:
Observed Maurizio reach over, place his hand inside a minor boy’s pants, and touch the minor boy’s genital area.
That same victim said he saw:
John Doe 2 and Maurizio engaging in sexual intercourse inside the chapel.
Two weeks ago, authorities searched the rectory of Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in Central City, Somerset County, where Maurizio is pastor, and found multiple images of child pornography.
The allegations against Maurizio first surfaced in 2009, when volunteers reported him to the diocese, the FBI and the state attorney general. But the case apparently floundered until this year.
Maurizio is in jail, awaiting a detention hearing tomorrow morning. He has said abuse allegations against him were a bogus plot by the Honduran government to thwart his charity work.
Maurizio’s attorney, Steven Passarello, said the criminal complaint regurgitates allegations made five years ago after the priest’s charity had a falling out with a local charity. He said children were bribed or coerced into making abuse allegations.