Wednesday, October 12, 2005

 

Pastor removed from ministry after sexual abuse allegation



ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- An influential Roman Catholic priest has been permanently banned from the ministry after accusations that he sexually abused a teenage boy four decades ago.

The Diocese of Camden informed parishioners at St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church last weekend that the Rev. Michael H. D'Amico had been removed over the 1964 sex abuse allegation.

D'Amico was removed in May, after a 54-year-old man told diocese officials about the abuse, a charge the diocese says was substantiated.

The abuse allegedly happened during D'Amico's first year in the priesthood, when he was assigned to Most Holy Redeemer Church in Westville in Gloucester County. The victim was 13 at the time, according to the diocese.

Andrew Walton, a spokesman for the diocese, told The Press of Atlantic City for Tuesday newspapers that the matter had been referred to authorities. The diocese had no indication of any other abuse cases involving D'Amico.

The priest is still technically part of the clergy but is "permanently removed from the ministry" under the diocese's sexual abuse policy, according to Walton.

D'Amico is not receiving housing or support from the church, Walton said.

Many parishioners had believed D'Amico's absence was because he was battling cancer. Supporters of the 65-year-old priest disputed the accusations.

"I know this man too well. It didn't happen," Michael Charlton, whose family has been friends with D'Amico for decades, told The Press.

D'Amico has been a fixture in the Atlantic City area for decades. He served as a pastor at St. Augustine Church and St. Francis Cabrini Church, both in Ocean City, and St. Peter Catholic Church in Pleasantville.

He also served as a guidance counselor, administrator and crew team founder at Holy Spirit High School. Since coming to St. Michael's in 1998, D'Amico has been credited with rebuilding the congregation and renovating both the church and the Dante Hall Theater of the Arts in 2003.


See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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