The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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March 23, 2013

Area priest placed on leave: Accused of molesting boy in 1990s

JOHNSTOWN — A longtime priest with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown who served parishes in Johnstown and northern Cambria County is facing allegations that he sexually molested a boy in the 1990s.

Monsignor Anthony B. Little, 58, most recently the pastor at St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Newry, Blair County, has been placed on leave from active ministry and is in a location where he will have no contact with children, according to the diocese.

The allegation against Little, which apparently is limited to one victim, surfaced in recent days, said Tony DeGol, secretary for communications for the diocese.

“This all just happened in the past couple days,” DeGol said Saturday.

“Immediately when this came to his attention, the bishop acted quickly.”

Word of the allegation was distributed via email sent by DeGol at 8:32 p.m. Friday.

According to the statement, the Most. Rev. Mark L. Bartchak notified Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio of the accusation against Little and no further action will be taken by the diocese concerning Little.

Consiglio could not be reached Saturday for comment regarding possible criminal charges against Little.

A spokeswoman for a national organization attempting to shed greater light on child sexual abuse said Saturday it is time for victims of clergy abuse to sidestep the church and go directly to authorities.

“Anyone who has any information about Monsignor Little or has been harmed by him needs to go to law enforcement and not to church officials,” Judy Jones, of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said. “They are not the proper officials to be investigating child sex crimes.”

A native of Altoona, Little, a onetime  instructor at Bishop McCort Catholic High School,  served at Our Mother of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church in Johnstown, St. Edward Roman Catholic Church in Barnesboro, Most Precious Blood Roman Catholic Church in Emeigh and later at the merged parish of Christ the King Roman Catholic Church in Barnesboro.

He later was transferred to St. Therese Roman Catholic Church, Altoona, and in 2002, was assigned to St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church, Newry.

The Rev. Raymond Crosser, a senior priest in the diocese, has been named temporary administrator at St. Patrick.

DeGol said in the statement that the usual Mass and sacrament schedule at the church will continue.

A letter from Bartchak will be read to parishioners at all Masses this weekend, DeGol said.

He was unable to provide details of the letter. He said Bartchak would encourage anyone else who may have been molested by Little to come forward.

In the media advisory, Bartchak termed the allegations against Little as very painful.

“I pledge to continue taking whatever action is necessary to protect all of God’s precious children in our church,” he said.

Bartchak asked the faithful to join him in praying for the alleged victims in this case and all victims of sexual abuse in society.

In notifying Consiglio’s office, DeGol said, Bartchak is in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, guidelines established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002.

Little’s removal from active ministry marks the second priest in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese accused of sexual abuse of a boy in seven months.

Johnstown native George Koharchik, 63, born in Windber and raised in Johnstown, was accused of molesting “young boys” while he served at a Cambria County parish more than 30 years ago.

Meanwhile, in 2005, Little was charged by the Altoona Police Department with drunken driving after he rear-ended another vehicle near the former Bon Secours Hospital in Altoona.

He had a blood-alcohol level of 0.34 percent, more than four times the legal limit to drive in Pennsylvania, authorities said.

Little is a brother of the late Monsignor John Joseph Little, who died in 2005 at the age of 54. He was at St Aloysius Roman Catholic Church, Cresson, at the time of his death.

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