Omaha man alleges priest sexually abused him 30 years ago
An Omaha man is alleging a religious order priest sexually abused him 30 years ago when he was a minor, the Archdiocese of Omaha said Oct. 31.
The religious order – New Jersey-based Order of Augustinian Recollects – is investigating the claim, the archdiocese referred the complainant to an outside counselor and is serving as a liaison between him and the Augustinians, said Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor.
The priest – Father Anthony Palmese – died two years ago.
He was associate pastor of Holy Ghost Parish in Omaha from 1984 to 1985, when the alleged abuse took place. The man and his family were members of the parish at the time, Deacon McNeil said.
The order founded Holy Ghost in 1918. It provided the parish with a pastor from its ranks until leaving Omaha and transferring Holy Ghost to the archdiocese in 1986.
Holy Ghost parishioners will be notified about the allegation and any victims encouraged to come forward, Deacon McNeil said.
“We want to make sure they receive the necessary care and attention,” he said.
The archdiocese learned of the allegation Dec. 30 and reported it to local law enforcement and the order’s headquarters, Deacon McNeil said.
Under most circumstances, the archdiocese tries to notify a parish within weeks of receiving an allegation or after completion of a preliminary investigation, but the archdiocese only recently learned specifics of the allegation, Deacon McNeil said.
The complainant also was reluctant to cooperate with the order’s investigation, Deacon McNeil said.
“We don’t know when the investigation will end,” he said. “Therefore, out of an abundance of caution, we are notifying parishioners, even though Palmese’s guilt or innocence has not been determined.”