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Uniontown priest on leave as authorities investigate abuse allegations

Deb Erdley
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Monsignor Michael Matusak

Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck has launched an investigation into what officials with the Greensburg diocese have deemed credible allegations of sexual abuse against Monsignor Michael Matusak.

Diocese officials this week forwarded allegations against the Uniontown priest to Peck’s office along with a new allegation against a priest previously identified in a statewide grand jury report and multiple allegations against deceased clergy.

The diocese released a statement Wednesday confirming that it contacted the district attorney after receiving an allegation against Matusak, who is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Matusak previously served at St. Pius X in Mt. Pleasant. He has served in Uniontown since 2008 at St. John the Evangelist, St. Joseph, St. Mary (Nativity) and St. Therese, Little Flower of Jesus.

Diocesan officials said they will notify parishioners there of the monsignor’s status at services on Saturday and Sunday.

“We will be communicating with parishioners at four parishes in Uniontown this weekend where he serves as pastor,” the diocese said. “This is the first and only allegation the diocese has ever received against Monsignor Matusak. A credible allegation does not mean it has been substantiated or proven. This announcement in no way implies Monsignor Matusak is guilty.”

A spokesman for Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said 544 new complaints have been reported through the office’s sex abuse hotline since a grand jury report released on Aug. 14 reported that priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses – including Greensburg and Pittsburgh – molested more than 1,000 children over the last 70 years.

A woman who now lives out of state contacted the Greensburg diocese on Monday via email. Her allegations prompted the diocese to place Matusak on leave. Hers was one of 16 new complaints the diocese has received since the grand jury report came out.

The woman wrote that Matusak molested her while he was pastor of St. Pius when she was a teenager. Matusak served there from 1997 until 2008. Prior to that, he served a parish in Blairsville.

The woman, now a mother with young children, remains active in the Catholic church.

In her email to the Greensburg diocese, she spoke of being a confused teenager during a period when Matusak would ask her to the rectory alone or pull her out of class to be alone with him on the pretext of comforting her. Those sessions, when he would place her head on his lap and stroke her head and back, grew increasingly more intimate. At one point, she described him of smelling of alcohol and sweat as he pulled her close.

Although their sessions never culminated in anything more, the woman said such conduct would be troubling to her today as a parent.

“What I don’t want, and what is truly compelling me to write this, is for something to happen to a child that could have been prevented if I had spoken up,” she wrote.

Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 412-320-7996, [email protected] or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.

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