Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Update on Fr. Panepinto Suspension

March 28th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

A couple local media outlets have sat down with the diocese in order to acquire more information about the suspension of Fr. Vincent Panepinto from performing priestly ministries following allegations of sexual abuse which date back to the 1960s. News 10 NBC reports that after the diocese was contacted by the alleged victim, a private investigator looked into the situation, as well as the diocese’s review board which is comprised of mental health professionals and members of law enforcement. The review board decided that the accusation is credible, and the bishop contacted Fr. Panepinto on Friday to inform him that he was going to be placed on leave.

As part of this suspension, Fr. Panepinto will no longer be permitted to wear clerical attire, offer Mass, live on church property (though I don’t believe he was living in a rectory prior to his suspension), or identify himself as a Catholic priest. He will, however, be permitted to receive his pension and health insurance. I am glad to hear that the diocese will not deprive Father of his retirement money after Father Panepinto’s many years of service to the Church. He has been told that he should look for other employment.

It does not appear that criminal charges can or will be filed since this case is well beyond the statue of limitations.

Local news coverage pertaining to this story is available on the NBC and YNN websites.

According to YNN, this is the 25th priest to be placed on leave by the Diocese of Rochester since 2002. In 2001, the diocese had 308 priests. 25 priestly suspensions comes to a little more than 8% of this 2001 priest total. As time goes on, sad to say, the percentage may grow even higher.

Please pray for our priests and for victims of sexual abuse. May God’s loving mercy be on them all.

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12 Responses to “Update on Fr. Panepinto Suspension”

  1. 25 priestly suspensions comes to a little more than 8% of this 2001 priest total.

    The John Jay Study revealed that 4% of the total number of priests nationally have had credible abuse charges made against them.

    So they’ve told Fr. Panepinto to look for other employment? That sounds a bit hasty at this early stage of the investigation.

  2. avatar annonymouse says:

    I’m confused – is that IT? The accusation is “credible” so Father Vinny needs to seek other employment? Is there some sort of investigation / trial? Did anyone bother to ask the alleged “victim” why she or he did not bother to report this five years ago, given that the alleged incident occurred over 40 years ago?

    This has really become guilty until proved innocent, and it is impossible to prove one’s innocence. And if something DID happen, why have there been no other allegations?

    Does not 40+ years of service to God and His Church count for anything?

  3. avatar Dr. K says:

    Is there some sort of investigation / trial?

    Not in the criminal sense, no. The statute of limitations has passed. The diocese has already investigated, and they have ruled that the accusation is “credible” (read: they believe him to be guilty). Bishop Clark has supposedly already met with the victim and delivered his sentence to Fr. Panepinto.

  4. avatar Bill B. says:

    Really? 11:38 seems to think all the employees there at the DOR are scoundrels. A topic like this is touchy, extremely touchy, since we have had more than our share of real offenders. Let’s see how it pans out…

  5. avatar Dr. K says:

    I agree, Bill. Though I suspect the diocese of forcing a shortage through other means, I can not believe that the bishop would concoct pedophilia allegations to get rid of his priests.

  6. avatar Jim says:

    Jim M. here: the only question I have about the situation is this: why would a person wait over forty years to come forward with an accusation? It begs the question that maybe this person is looking for nothing more than a payout. If this is the case, then there should be a much more serious investigation directed at the person. A priest’s good name and reputation are at stake!

  7. avatar Jim says:

    Jim M. here: To anon 10:43…A lot of reasons? Name three. Just because the diocese deemed this credible, doesn’t necessarily mean that there was reason to believe it. I don’t know enough about the case to know if Fr. Vince is fighting this. My point is that if a person was psychologically hurt forty years ago…. now as a middle-aged adult, why would he possibly wait that long to come forward, if he didn’t think he could get some kind of a monetary settlement? That’s quite a stretch. These days, there are lawyers waiting in the wings with bated breath, just waiting to take on a Catholic priest, who these days are pretty vulnerable.

  8. avatar maria says:

    Can’t help but question the 40+ years between the alleged incident and the reporting of it. Granted, there is such a thing as repressed memory. However, we also recognize that there exist, too, false, or “planted”, memories, which may be the result of manipulative therapy techniques, or of greed. Do we know whether any credible witnesses have come forward?

    Ironic that Tuesday’s Gospel was about forgiveness. The head servant was forgiven by the master, but he had no forgiveness to give the servant who reported to him. If, in the incident at hand (Father Vinny), a minor was, in fact, damaged four decades ago, that, of course, is a very serious matter, and should not be minimized. However, what if 10 minors, or 100 minors, or 1000 minors, or more, have been, or will be, damaged by the absence of local Catholic schools, or other critical resource programs, because the local head servant chose to make a grand cathedral his financial priority? I would have expected, or, at least, hoped, that more than 40 years of dedicated service to the people of God on the part of Father Vinny would be considered in mitigation of this alleged, but highly questionable, offense. Should not our local head servant forgive, in order that he, too, might be forgiven? Just saying . . .

    P.S. to Dr. K.: It’s “statute”, not “statue”, of limitations.

  9. avatar Jim says:

    Jim M. here: To anon 8:26….Your three reasons would be relevent, if they happened within the first ten, fifteen, or maybe even twenty-five years of the incident. But forty years?? What extenuating circumstances, besides a nifty payout, could there possibly be? I believe that this priest deserves his day in court. As I alluded to before, there are shark-like attorneys out there, who will strike at a Catholic priest, if they sniff some blood in the water. In this day and age, if anybody says anything against a priest, especially a false claim, it will ruin his life forever.

  10. avatar Jim says:

    Jim M. here: To anon 9:53…Lumping innocent priests in with those who are guilty of pedophilia, is unfair. I know of a few priests for whom this is the case. I also know of some priests who are afraid to even give a person a normal hug for fear of accusation. We should pray for our priests and let them know that we have their best interests at heart. Our society pretty much lives in a post-Christian era, that will shoot first and ask questions later.

  11. To Maria-It is not a matter of forgiveness that is at hand with the removal of Fr. Vincent Panepinto, it is the directives of Creating a Safe Environment. I do not know if you are familiar with this program from the Diocese of Rochester. All staff and volunteers who will be interacting with those who are vulnerable – the sick, infirmed, and children are required to go through this program and a background check. There is a thick booklet of do’s and don’t’s given to every participant. Participants are encouraged to report any and all behaviors and incidents that they question and are asked to be a watch dog for one another. (After listening to the long talks, it can make you paranoid about giving someone, (anyone), a hug or talking with a church member under the age of 18). There tends to be overkill at these scheduled programs. However, there are specifications set up that anyone serving in any capacity that is seen as a possible threat to a young person or someone debilitated or comprised in any way, is removed from that environment and position.

  12. avatar maria says:

    Point taken, Christian 1954. I have a general understanding of CASE, but my current ministeries, to date, have not required my attending the program; that may soon change. (I believe that recent protocol changes for childcare at the “Y” include similar guidelines.) However, why not the possibility for Father Vinny of work in a prison, or, perhaps, a men’s shelter? I still believe that taking everything away from him is far too drastic an outcome for what appears to be — if even true — a lone act from over four decades ago.

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