A former Catholic priest who was charged with child rape by a grand jury in Delaware this week has claimed that the entire thing was apparently an “accident.” John A. Sarro, the 76-year-old priest accused of rape, was recently interviewed by The News Journal of Wilmington where he explained that the entire event that occurred more than 25 years ago may have been “simply a misunderstanding.” Sarro is currently facing several charges, including a second-degree unlawful sexual contact charge and a first-degree unlawful sexual intercourse charge.
The charges brought up by the grand jury in Delaware is the first time the state has ever filed criminal molestation charges against a priest of the Catholic Church. The former priest is currently scheduled to appear in court next week, where he will be facing the charges against him. According to a Wilmington Diocese spokesperson, the allegations against Sarro were apparently first brought to their attention back in 2011.
The victim was a minor-aged girl who was less than 16-years-old when the alleged molestation happened 25 years ago. The victim only approached church officials in 2011 and made her allegations when she was already an adult, but she reportedly refused to give the ministry permission to approach the proper authorities during that time.
According to the indictment presented to the grand jury, Sarro is being accused of intentionally touching the victim’s private areas between 1991 and 1992. Sarro is also accused of having oral sex with the young girl along with initiating sexual intercourse with her between 1993 and 1994 while he was still serving as a priest at St. Helena Parish in Bellefonte. During the interview with the Delaware newspaper, Sarro explained that he could no longer recall all of the circumstances and that it may have all been a misunderstanding.
As per a report from Time, Sarro was apparently part of 20 local priests that were being investigated by church officials in 2006 related to sexual molestation allegations. The diocese even printed a list of priests and circulated it via a newsletter. However, the diocese clarified through a written statement that the current charges are not related to the 2006 investigation as it was actually based on previous abuse claims against Sarro during his time as a missionary in Papua New Guinea in the 80s.