May 18, 2006

Community reacts to Priest's arrest

GATES (NY)
WHEC

A Roman Catholic priest from Gates is accused of sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl.

Gates police arrested Reverend John Steger Wednesday afternoon. He's been the pastor of St. Jude the Apostle Church in Gates for nearly 40-years. Steger is charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of sexual abuse. Rev. Steger has been placed on administrative leave pending the sexual abuse charges involving a 12-year old girl.

NEWS10 NBC learned Pastor Steger is about to celebrate his 80th birthday with more than 700 people next week. People in the community said these allegations won't stop them from celebrating with him. Paulette Kryk said her 9-year-old daughter Celina is an alter server during Steger's Sunday mass. "I can not imagine that this man could be connected to any type of abuse situation, said Kryk.

Gates Police Chief Tom Roche held a news conference Wednesday to announce the arrest of Pastor Steger, a man who works with the Gates Fire Department and literally helped build St. Judes. "the police investigation rose to a level of probable cause," said Chief Roche.

Officials said a 12-year-old girl told her parents Steger inappropriately touched her while she was doing assigned chores in a private area of the rectory, located right next door to St. Judes. The alleged crimes happened in late April and early May. Chief Roche says it was a good thing the child in this case had a good rapport with her parents, because that isn't often today.

Posted by kshaw at May 18, 2006 05:25 AM