Parishioners notified about priest sex abuse allegation
Victim was 10 during alleged abuse by priest at St. James Church in Wilkinsburg
By Shannon Perrine 6:56 PM EDT Apr 08, 2013
Parishioners at St. James Church in Wilkinsburg received a letter in the mail from the diocese informing them of the allegation, which is said to have occurred between 1981 and 1985. Parishioner Jim Ruck said, “It’s sad and especially for people in positions of trust to abuse that trust, that’s horrendous.”
Mike Ference, a local advocate for victims of sex abuse by priests, said the alleged victim is a man in his 40s who recently died.
Ference said the man’s family came to him and told him that the alleged victim divulged detailed accounts of the abuse in the months before he died. Ference said, “The man started to talk about it and a few months later he passed away.”
The abuse, they said, began when the alleged victim was about 10 years old.
Ference said the family members reported to him that the priest accused of abusing the child was the Rev. John J. Wellinger, who served at the church during that time period.
Wellinger died in 2011 and had not served as a priest publicly since 1995. He had been connected to other charges of sex abuse in the past.
Diocesan spokesman, the Rev. Ron Lengwin, said, “In terms of the fact that we thought the previous one was credible, then you would tend to think that there could certainly be credibility here. And we’ve never really had many allegations that were not credible.”
Pittsburgh Catholic Bishop David Zubik wrote the letter to parishioners at St. James Parish. He asked that any other possible victims of Wellinger call the diocesan victim’s assistance hotline at 888-808-12135 or the state abuse hotline at 800-932-0313.