July 25, 2005

Spencerport pastor on sabbatical when sexual abuse claim surfaced

Democrat & Chronicle

Diana Louise Carter
Staff Writer

(July 25, 2005) A priest charged with sexual abuse on Friday had been on sabbatical for months before the allegation emerged earlier this year.

Rochester police charged the Rev. Dennis Sewar, 54, who most recently was pastor of a Spencerport church, with a class B misdemeanor, sexual abuse in the third degree; and a class A misdemeanor, endangering the welfare of a child. The charges apparently stem from an incident in 1999 when Sewar was pastor of Church of the Annunciation in northeast Rochester.

A statement from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester said Sewar has been on administrative leave meaning he cannot engage in public ministry since June 14, after the abuse claim reached the diocese in April. A diocese spokesman said the allegation was turned over to the Rochester Police Department immediately.

"I am deeply disturbed by these allegations," said Bishop Matthew Clark in a statement Sunday. "I sincerely hope that they do not diminish in the eyes of our faithful the great progress made over the last three years," Clark said, referring to efforts by the local diocese to investigate reports of abuse and offer counseling to any victims of abuse.

Posted by kshaw at July 25, 2005 05:33 AM