GREENSBURG, Pa. - UPDATE THURSDAY 12/20/18:
The Westmoreland County District Attorney said Thursday there is not enough evidence to prosecute a priest in the Diocese of Greensburg accused of abuse.
In a statement released Thursday morning about the district attorney's decision a diocese spokesperson said:
“Now that the District Attorney has completed his investigation, the Diocese will follow the next phase of its policy, which is examining the allegation in relation to church law. This is called a canonical investigation, which has already begun. We expect it to be completed quickly.”
Diocese of Greensburg Spokesperson
A Westmoreland County priest has been suspended from his duties after the Diocese of Greensburg received an abuse allegation against him.
The Rev. Joseph E. Bonafed, who serves as pastor for parishes in West Newton and Herminie, was relieved of his duties after the diocese was told he allegedly abused a minor in the past, the diocese announced Wednesday.
The allegation is “credible,” the diocese said, but said it has not been substantiated or proven.
A relative of the victim contacted the diocese. The victim contacted Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s abuse line back in April, but the diocese said no one told them until that relative called just this week.
- All state prisons in Pennsylvania put on lockdown after unknown substance exposures
- FDA announces another blood pressure medication recall
- RAW VIDEO: Fishermen ram boats during trade war
- DOWNLOAD the Channel 11 News app for breaking news alerts
The abuse allegedly happened 28 years ago.
Channel 11 talked with Bishop Edward Malesic about the allegations.
He said the diocese called the state’s ChildLine and the district attorney’s office.
Bonafed has been a priest in the Greensburg Diocese for many years, serving in parishes in Connellsville, Uniontown, Irwin, Harrison City, Delmont, Export and Leechburg.
He was not mentioned in the recent grand jury report.
Bonafed will remain on leave until the district attorney's investigation is complete.
Malesic told Channel 11 that parishioners will hear more about this at mass this weekend.
Shapiro told Channel 11 he was unaware of the specific case and said he has questions about the diocese's version of events.
"I'm not going to comment on any specific call that's come into the hotline or any action taken by that diocese, nor was I aware of it until you just spoke about it," Shapiro said. "I'm not willing to accept the version of events. Let me find out what occurred. Let us look into it and if we are in a position to share that publicly, we will as we've done throughout this entire process."
Shapiro, who spoke Wednesday at the University of Pittsburgh, also defended the grand jury report following criticism from Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who has questioned the report's accuracy, and Bishop David Zubik, who insists there was no cover-up.
"I'm not going to get into a back-and-forth with the cardinal and the bishop. I would just respectfully say to you, the people of Pennsylvania, to the American people, read the report. It's in there," Shapiro said.
He also stood by his claims that the cover-up went all the way to the Vatican.
"Read the report. Read page 87 and 88 where it talks about reports being made to the Vatican," Shapiro said. "This is not my insertion or my claim. This is the work of the grand jurors and this is the documents contained in the church's secret archives."
Since the release of the grand jury report, the hotline has received more than 800 claims of abuse, and he said they are looking at each one.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.