Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver removed a retired priest from ministry within the archdiocese over a “credible allegation” that he sexually abused a minor in the 1970s.
Fr. Dorino De Lazzer, 75, who retired from his duties as pastor of Sacred Heart of Mary Church in Boulder in 2005, was currently serving the archdiocese when the accusation surfaced.
“On May 7, I received a credible allegation against him for past sexual misconduct with a minor that reportedly occurred in the early 1970s before Father De Lazzer served in Colorado,” Archbishop Chaput said in a statement on Sunday.
“Consistent with our policies, we have reported the allegation to the civil authorities in the county and state where the accusation allegedly happened,” he added. “We have begun an internal investigation into the allegation.”
The day after he received the allegation, Archbishop Chaput stated that he “removed the priestly faculties of the retired priest,” withdrew him from “all ministry and placed him on administrative leave.”
Other parishes that Fr. De Lazzer served at in Colorado, include St. Pius X, St. James, Spirit of Christ, All Saints, St. Mary (Greeley), St. Michael, and Sacred Heart of Mary. All of these have been notified, the Denver archbishop said.
“It is important to remember that this is the first allegation of sexual abuse of a minor that the archdiocese has received against Father De Lazzer,” Archbishop Chaput noted. “It concerns events from more than 30 years ago, and every accused person has the right to be presumed innocent.”
“As the investigation proceeds, please respect the presumption of innocence and also the privacy of Father De Lazzer, the parish communities where he served and the individual who reported the allegation to us.”
The archbishop also encouraged anyone with concerns to contact the Archdiocese of Denver's Child and Youth Protection Office.