Diocese of Richmond starts review of sexual abuse allegations against four former priests

Diocese of Richmond starts review of sexual abuse allegations against four former priests
Catholic Diocese of Richmond (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced Monday that is has started a review of child sexual abuse allegations against four former priests.

The diocese said none of the accused priests are currently serving, nor have they recently served in ministry for it.

“The diocese has not reached any conclusions regarding these allegations, rather this statement serves to announce the beginning of its inquiry into the allegations. Until this inquiry concludes, the accused are not deemed to have committed the acts alleged,” the Diocese of Richmond said in a release.

According to the release, Bishop Barry C. Knestout said he acknowledges the courage it took for the allegations to be reported.

“While the alleged incidents are from the past, we recognize the pain is still a deep and present reality for victim survivors of abuse and for their loved ones,” said Knestout. “We continue to pray for their healing and for their loved ones who support them.”

Knestout has prohibited all of the named clergy from any public ministry until the allegations are reviewed.

“As part of the Church process into the allegations, the Diocesan Review Board will make recommendations to Bishop Knestout. Based upon its findings, the Diocesan Review Board’s recommendations will assist Bishop Knestout with an appropriate response to the allegations. Then, Bishop Knestout will make a final determination. The Diocese has also notified the civil authorities,” the Diocese of Richmond said.

Child sexual abuse allegations have been made against Fr. William Dinga, Jr. while he served at Christ the King Catholic Church, Norfolk in 1986. Dinga denies the allegations. He also served at the following parishes: Christ the King, Norfolk; Saint Andrew, Roanoke; Holy Cross, Lynchburg; Saint Jerome, Newport News; Saint Vincent de Paul, Newport News; and Saint Peter, Richmond.

“Fr. Dinga retired in 1990. Prior to this recent allegation, Fr. Dinga did not have permission to exercise any public priestly ministry. His priestly faculties remain suspended,” the diocese said.

Allegations of child sexual abuse have also been made against Fr. Joseph Slowik while serving at St. Paul’s in Portsmouth in the early 1990s. The diocese said it “has been unable to ascertain Fr. Slowik’s response to the allegations. The Church process will proceed based on the assumption that Fr. Slowik denies the allegations.”

Slowik also served at the following parishes: St. John, Petersburg, St. Paul, Portsmouth and Church of Saint Therese, Gloucester.

“He was removed from public ministry in 2006. Fr. Slowik’s priestly faculties remain suspended."

Child sex abuse allegations have been made against Fr. Thomas L. Long, Jr. while he was serving at Christ the King Catholic School in Norfolk in 1986. The diocese said it has been unable to get Long’s response to the allegations, so it will proceed based on the assumption that he denies them.

“Fr. Long, ordained a priest of the diocese in 1981, was assigned to St. Joseph in Petersburg and Christ the King in Norfolk. He took a leave of absence in 1988 and has not served in priestly ministry within the Diocese of Richmond since that time,” the church said.

Before the allegations, Long’s priestly faculties were already suspended and they remain suspended.

Allegations of sexual child abuse were also made against Fr. Eugene Daigle, a religious order priest while serving at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea in Fort Monroe in the late 1970s.

“Fr. Daigle was ordained a Redemptorist, or member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (C.Ss.R), a religious community of Roman Catholic priests and brothers, before working in ministry in the diocese. The Catholic Diocese of Richmond has informed the provincial superior of the Redemptorists of the Baltimore Province, to whom Fr. Daigle reports to, of the allegations. Currently, Fr. Daigle is no longer active in priestly ministry,” the diocese said.

The diocese has been unable to get Daigle’s response to the allegations, so it will proceed based on the assumption that he denies them.

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