Man targets Pittsburgh bishop with abuse allegation

Bishop David A Zubik CNA US Catholic News 10 5 11 Bishop David A. Zubik

A 45-year-old man’s accusation that Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik forcibly kissed him as a student has no factual basis and the bishop did nothing wrong, the local district attorney says.

“In my opinion there is no base of law or fact to substantiate this claim,” said Tony Berosh, district attorney of Beaver County.

The accuser, Mike Rock, never went to police and never reported the alleged assault, he said.

"He's making these allegations and not coming to us and telling us what happened. That speaks volumes for what he has to say,” Berosh told WPXI News.

The district attorney said that his office conducted an investigation even though the statute of limitations had expired. He added that Rock has a lengthy criminal record with charges including burglary, indecent exposure and open lewdness.

Berosh contacted Rock, who was reportedly hard to reach and not cooperative. When Rock responded, Berosh said he told him that he was represented by civil counsel and was going to handle matters on his own.

Rock had made accusations against the bishop via e-mail and on the Quigley Catholic High School Facebook page. The page administrator saw the comment and took it down.

Bishop Zubik announced the allegation against him at an Oct. 5 press conference.

“The fear of every priest is that someone, sometime, somewhere, somehow will level a false accusation against him. That nightmare has been realized for me,” he said.

The bishop did not mention Rock by name. He said that a former student at Quigley Catholic High School in Baden, Pa. had accused him of forcibly kissing him in the school’s chapel during the mid-1980s when Bishop Zubik was vice principal at the school.

“I emphatically state no such behavior occurred, nor any semblance of such behavior. The accusation is false, offensive and outrageous,” Bishop Zubik said.

The accuser also claimed that a religious sister molested him and that his pastor violated the seal of confession, accusations which are “vehemently denied.”

Rock also made his charges in two e-mails on Aug. 21 to his pastor. The pastor forwarded the contents of the e-mail to the bishop, who instructed the diocese’s victim assistance coordinator Rita Flaherty to contact the accuser. The accuser did not reply to her inquiries.

Bishop Zubik ordered the information to be turned over to the local district attorney in accord with diocesan policy. He also directly informed the apostolic nunciature in Washington, D.C. in a Sept. 12 meeting. The independent Diocesan Review Board is now handling the accusation.

On Sept. 10, 2010 Flaherty responded to two previous allegations from the accuser, who said he had been assaulted by two priests, one in 1979 and one in 1989. The two priests had been dismissed from ministry.

The accuser was offered the chance to meet with the bishop, but he did not call for an appointment until May 2011.

Bishop Zubik and Flaherty met with Rock and his wife on June 1. Instead of discussing the allegations against the two priests, the man asked the bishop to intercede in a clearance process for parish volunteers because he had been deemed ineligible for liturgical service.

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Bishop Zubik said he believed his accuser saw him as part of the process that denied his authorization to serve.

“I assure you that I am concerned about the welfare of my accuser. At the same time, I expect that my integrity and the integrity of the Church I lead will be respected as well,” Bishop Zubik said at the Oct. 5 press conference.”

He said he would pray for his accuser and he asked for prayers for both himself and Rock.

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