Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh places 74-year-old priest on leave after getting abuse report |

Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh places 74-year-old priest on leave after getting abuse report

Brian C. Rittmeyer

A 74-year-old priest in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has been placed on administrative leave following an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.

The allegation against Father James Downs dates from the early 1990s and was received late Thursday, the diocese said in a statement issued Friday.

Downs had most recently served as pastor of Christ the King Parish, Bessemer/Hillsville and Saint James the Apostle Parish, Pulaski until his retirement in July.

Downs has denied the allegation, which the diocese says has been reported to law enforcement.

“No prior victim has ever come forward against Father Downs,” the diocese said in the statement.

Bishop David Zubik has sent letters to be shared this weekend at all parishes where Downs had served.

Priests placed on administrative leave may not engage in public ministry, dress as priests or present themselves as priests in good standing.

If it is determined Downs did what he is accused of, those restrictions become permanent; if the allegation is found to be unsubstantiated, he will be returned to ministry, the diocese said.

Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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