Priest Defends Himself on Radio in Sex Abuse Case

A suspended Philadelphia priest has taken to the airwaves to defend himself against allegations of child sex abuse, which he called "completely and totally a lie."

PHILADELPHIA -- A suspended Philadelphia priest has taken to the airwaves to defend himself against allegations of child sex abuse, which he called "completely and totally a lie."

Joseph DiGregorio was one of three priests removed from the ministry while their cases are being reviewed by the Philadelphia archdiocese after they were named as child molestation suspects in a scathing grand jury report. The archdiocese also pledged to reopen complaints made against 34 other priests still on the job.

"I hope I'm not being made a fall guy," DiGregorio said Friday on radio station WPHT. "I hope the diocese would not do that."

In 2005, a woman accused DiGregorio and a second priest of having abused her at Our Lady of Loreto around 1968 when she was 16.

"Any statement she made concerning me is an absolute lie, completely and totally a lie," DiGregorio said in an interview with the station. "I never once touched her. I never once groped her or did anything inappropriate."

A lie detector test indicated that DiGregorio was "being deceptive when he said that he did not fondle (the girl) in his car and his bedroom," the grand jury report said.

DiGregorio took a polygraph in 2006, but the results were inconclusive.

"I took it. It's over. It was read. It was inconclusive," he said. "I go with that."

The city grand jury earlier this month charged five other people -- four current or former priests and a former Catholic school teacher -- with raping boys in the late 1990s or endangering children by covering up the crimes. An earlier grand jury report, in 2005, blasted the church for ignoring or dismissing sexual-abuse complaints made against 63 priests in the archdiocese over many decades.

DiGregorio said some accused priests are guilty, but some are innocent, including himself, and he vowed to fight the allegations.

"Let's be accurate and let's condemn those who did something, and not just group or grab a number of priests and we'll throw them to the wolves," he said. "That's what I think is happening here."

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