PITTSBURGH (AP) - The former bishop of the Green Bay Catholic Diocese is denying accusations of forcibly kissing a student decades ago.
Bishop David Zubik, currently with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, took the unusual step of calling a press conference Wednesday to announce that he has been accused, and to deny the charges.
Zubik said the former student made the accusation in August after the man's request to volunteer in the diocese was rejected. Soon after the rejection, the man alleged that the incident happened when he was a student at Quigley Catholic High School in the 1980s.
"The accusation is false, offensive and outrageous," Zubik said, adding that no such behavior occurred when he was at the school from 1980 to 1987.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Beaver County District Attorney Anthony Berosh said he agrees.
"There was no factual basis for the allegation. No basis in law or in fact," Berosh told The Associated Press.
Berosh said his office reviewed documents in the case and made numerous attempts to meet with the man who claimed Zubik forcibly kissed him.
The man declined offers to meet, and then visited the District Attorney's Office unannounced last week and made a new claim that a nun had touched him on an airplane, in full view of the passengers, Berosh said.
Berosh also noted that the Beaver County man never filed an official complaint against Zubik, and that officials first heard about the case from the diocese.
Zubik said he turned the information over to the Beaver County District Attorney on Sept. 1 and informed Vatican officials on Sept. 12.
Zubik said he decided to speak out after the man made a public blog post with the accusation last weekend. Zubik didn't identify the man, but The Associated Press found his blog.
A man says on the blog that he left the Catholic Church when he was 18 and returned when he was 42.
He alleges that two former priests in western Pennsylvania had molested him, in 1979 and 1989, but Zubik wasn't one of them.
Zubik said those two priests were dismissed decades ago, for misconduct.
The man also claims on the blog that church officials offered him counseling, and that during a June meeting with Zubik to discuss the allegations against the other priests, the sight and smell of the bishop "jarred a memory."
But Zubik said that instead of discussing the other allegations of abuse during the June meeting, the man asked him to intercede in his application to volunteer in the diocese. That process includes a background check, and Zubik said the accuser was concerned because he had a police record.
Zubik said he told the man he couldn't intervene in the process. Zubik said the accusations against him were made in late August, after the man was told by a priest that his application to volunteer had been rejected.
Zubik said he'll continue his day-to-day work and asked for prayers for the accuser and himself.
It is not unprecedented for a bishop to be charged with molesting a minor, but such allegations have been rare.
The man who made the accusations told The AP that he stands behind the blog statements.
"It is really tough for me and my family right now. I have nothing more to say at this time," he wrote in an email to The AP.
Berosh said he finds it "abhorrent" that Zubik is facing a "trial by blog."
Zubik was with the Green Bay Catholic Diocese from 2003 to 2007.
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