Cleared St. Vincent priest sues, alleges defamation
The attorney for a suspended priest at St. Vincent College and Archabbey in a defamation action charged that the bishop of the Greensburg Catholic Diocese based his decision on "erroneous allegations and defamatory information" supplied by college officials.
The Rev. Mark Gruber, who is a Benedictine monk and anthropology professor, was suspended from teaching last year by Archabbott Douglas Nowicki. Bishop Lawrence Brandt suspended Gruber's priestly functions after Nowicki and other St. Vincent officials told the bishop that Gruber had downloaded child pornography on a college computer, according to a lawsuit.
Though Gruber is a member of the Benedictine Order, Brandt has authority over all priests within the diocese.
A state police investigation cleared Gruber of any criminality, but the school refused to reinstate him even after a student came forward and admitted that he downloaded some of the material onto a computer used by Gruber, according to the suit.
In addition to Nowicki and Brandt, Gruber has sued former St. Vincent president H. James Towey and several other school officials in Westmoreland County court for accusing Gruber of being a "sexual predator, child molester, deviant ... despite the fact they should have known that those statements were false," wrote attorney Sharon Smith of Mt. Lebanon, who represents Gruber.
The actions by Nowicki and the other defendants placed a "horrific label" on Gruber and forced him to undergo psychiatric treatment, according to the filing.
"The actions of the bishop and diocese ... were grounded in the defamatory information supplied by the St. Vincent defendants," she wrote.
Gruber, who has written several books on anthropology and religion, was a critic of Towey during his tenure as president. He criticized Towey in interviews to national academic publications and served as faculty spokesman in complaining about Towey to the school's board of trustees.
According to the suit, the college was motivated to retaliate against Gruber, who was suspected of authoring an essay that was critical of Towey and falsely contained the signature of another monk.
The investigation was triggered when Eddie Dejthai, director of information technology at St. Vincent, checked the hard drive on Gruber's computer and found pictures of naked males. Dejthai is the son-in-law of Dennis Grace, who was Towey's chief of staff and now is a vice president at the college.
Investigators concluded that the photos were of men older than 18 and said no crime had been committed. District Attorney John Peck, after reviewing the findings, declined to prosecute Gruber.
Towey left St. Vincent in May and was replaced as president by Brother Norman Hipps.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penn Township teen allegedly drunk at time of police chase, crash
- More charged filed against Derry Township man who allegedly held woman at knifepoint
- Friends of Homeless Felines marks 10 years in Scottdale
- Ethics panel: It’s OK for Westmoreland commissioner to do business with municipalities
- YouTube campaign by Latrobe 4-year-old aids Alzheimer’s Association
- Father, son killed in East Huntingdon crash
- Penn Township man seeking gun permit accused of bringing heroin to courthouse
- Consent decree that limits weddings at Foxley Farms ruled valid
- Latrobe man who admitted role in fatal crash allowed to continue driving
- Adelphoi resident charged as adult in Latrobe assault
- Police: Westmoreland women stole thousands to pay for dog show hobby