Three more priests were permanently removed from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Sunday, including one whose accuser killed himself after his allegation was dismissed by the church.
Father Joseph Gallagher, 78, and Father Mark Gaspar, 43, are among the 26 priests who were placed on administrative leave by the archdiocese after a 2011 grand jury investigation into the archdiocese's handling of child sex abuse allegations.
The third priest, Monsignor Richard Powers, was suspend last year after his name surfaced on a list of priests previously accused of sexual abuse. The archdiocese says the decision is not directly connected to the priests placed on administrative leave after the grand jury report.
CNN reports Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said the investigations of Gallagher and Gaspar found substantiated violations of the "Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries."
"After reviewing all the facts, as well as recommendations from competent external authorities, I made the decisions I feel are right and just," Chaput said in a statement released Sunday.
The three men will have the right to appeal to the Vatican.
Gallagher retired from the Church of St. Richard of Chichester in Philadelphia in 2006. He was at the center of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Daniel Neill, who killed himself in 2009, after the church concluded his allegations were not credible.
A 2007 grand jury report showed that Neill claimed Gallagher repeatedly fondled him when he was an altar boy in Bristol, Pennsylvania.
Marci Hamilton, who represents the Neill family, described Sunday’s announcement as too little too late.
"But it is good news for parents who can at least now know that Gallagher and Gaspar should not be near children."
“Gallagher belongs in prison, but because of the Archdiocese’s cover up, the criminal statutes of limitations for these victims expired long ago,” she said.
The Philadelphia archdiocese has almost 1.5 million members, making it one of the largest in the nation.
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