Priest, accused a 2d time of sex abuse, is removed

Posted: March 24, 2009

When the Rev. Gerard J. Hoffman was accused last year of sexually abusing a minor decades ago, he denied it, and the Philadelphia Archdiocese was unable to prove the charge.

But yesterday, following allegations by a second person, the archdiocese announced that Cardinal Justin Rigali had permanently removed Hoffman, former principal of Roman Catholic and Pius X High Schools, from all priestly ministry.

No criminal or civil charges can be brought against him, since the statute of limitations has long since run out on the alleged offenses.

In July, Rigali publicly suspended the priest, then 63, as parochial vicar of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Doylestown after receiving a complaint that he had sexually abused a minor more than 30 years ago. At the time, the archdiocese said it was the first such charge lodged against him.

Hoffman denied the allegation, but, during the investigation, he was not permitted to administer any of the sacraments, wear clerical garb, or present himself publicly as a priest.

The Archdiocesan Review Board was unable to substantiate the original charge, according to the archdiocese's statement yesterday. However, during that investigation, another person came forward alleging abuse by Hoffman while a minor more than 30 years before.

The review board substantiated the second charge, which was unrelated to the first, and that led to Hoffman's permanent removal from ministry, the archdiocese said.

Hoffman has agreed to a "supervised life of penance and prayer," according to archdiocesan spokeswoman Donna Farrell. He is expected to reside at a special facility on the grounds of Villa St. Joseph home for retired priests in Darby.

Since his ordination 35 years ago, Hoffman has served or resided at the following sites:

1973 to 1976, St. Teresa of Avila parish in Valley Forge.

June 1976 to September 1976, the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.

1976 to 1988, St. Pius X High School, Pottstown.

1988 to 1990, St. John Neumann High School, Philadelphia.

1990 to 1993, St. Pius X High.

1993 to 2002, Roman Catholic High.

2002 to 2008, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Doylestown.

During his service at the high schools, he also resided in the following parish rectories:

1976 to 1977, St. Basil the Great, Kimberton.

1977 to 1988, St. Isaac Jogues parish, Wayne.

1988 to 1989, King of Peace, Philadelphia.

1989 to 1990, St. John the Evangelist, Philadelphia.

The archdiocese maintains a Victim Assistance Office for persons with concerns or issues related to child sexual abuse. The toll-free number is 888-800-8780.

Contact staff writer David O'Reilly at 215-854-5723 or doreilly@phillynews.com.

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