Pittsburgh diocese alerts Vatican to alleged inappropriate child contact by North Hills deacon | TribLIVE.com

Pittsburgh diocese alerts Vatican to alleged inappropriate child contact by North Hills deacon

Natasha Lindstrom

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh sent to the Vatican the results of a preliminary investigation into a North Hills deacon accused of trying to kiss a child inappropriately three years ago, diocesan officials confirmed.

John C. Miller — ordained eight years ago and previously affiliated with St. Teresa of Avila in Ross — has not performed his duties as a deacon since early last year, shortly after someone accused him of making “inappropriate contact with a minor” in 2016, diocesan spokesman the Rev. Nicholas Vaskov said in a statement.

“Specifically, the allegation was of an unwanted kiss to a minor girl,” Vaskov said.

The diocese “immediately notified” law enforcement and placed Miller on administrative leave, which prohibited him from doing public ministry or identifying himself as a deacon, Vaskov said.

The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office received notification of the allegation in February 2018, spokesman Mike Manko confirmed. He declined to discuss the status of the DA’s ensuing “reviews and/or investigation,” per agency policy.

The accusation marked the first such allegation against Miller ever received by the diocese, Vaskov said.

The initial internal investigation was delayed “due to grave health issues Deacon Miller was facing,” Vaskov said.

“With the preliminary investigation now complete, it was determined that the allegation was a violation of the U.S. Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” Vaskov said. He did not provide further details about the alleged incident.

Miller next is set to confront a canonical process led by Vatican officials to determine his status as a member of the clergy.

He remains on administrative leave while the Vatican investigates.

St. Teresa of Avila, just west of McKnight Road near Lindley Lane, has been placed on the list of institutions with allegations pending in the canonical process.

The same church has ties to an allegation of a December 2016 rape by a visiting priest.

Last month, Kathy Coll, a widowed mother of two adult sons, filed a 13-count lawsuit against the priest she accused of raping her, Cyprian Duru, the diocese, Bishop David Zubik and St. Teresa parish. Coll claimed that the church heard complaints from others about Duru’s inappropriate behavior toward older women, failed to act quickly and neglected to explain why Duru was removed from ministry after she reported her assault.

The DA’s office declined to prosecute Duru.

“After reviewing the evidence and the investigation, we informed the victim and her attorney that, based on the evidence as it exists, we cannot move forward with any charges,” Manko told the Trib last month.

Scrutiny over allegations of clergy abuse and cover-ups has intensified following two Pennsylvania grand jury investigations, including a 2016 report on the Altoona-Johnstown diocese and August 2018 report detailing decades of alleged sex abuse and cover-ups involving 301 priests across six dioceses.

Across Pittsburgh’s six-county diocese, eight clergy cases are pending the Vatican’s canonical process, according to Vaskov.

The length of time it takes to reach a resolution “depends on the particular nature of each case,” Vaskov said.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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