On Wednesday, March 6, 2019, the Diocese of Scranton received an allegation of sexual assault involving Father James J. Walsh, pastor of Saint Maria Goretti Parish, Laflin. Upon receipt of this allegation, the Diocese immediately notified the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office. The Diocese also confronted Father Walsh with the information. Fr. Walsh adamantly denied the allegation.
The alleged incident took place in 1979 while Father Walsh was serving as Assistant Pastor at the Church of Saint Gregory in Clarks Green. The individual making the allegation was an adult at the time of the alleged assault.
The Diocese followed its established procedure relative to allegations of sexual misconduct not involving minors. In addition to notifying the civilian authorities, Diocesan outside counsel retained a professional investigator to conduct a thorough investigation. During the course of the investigation, the Diocese received another allegation involving inappropriate behavior with an adult by Walsh. The investigator fully investigated this allegation, as well as two prior reports of possible misconduct. Fr. Walsh denied each allegation.
Based upon the investigation, the Diocese determined the allegations to be credible. This determination was presented to the Bishop’s Advisory Board for Clergy for recommendation and review. Bishop Bambera thereafter informed Father Walsh of his intention to remove him as pastor. After being so informed, Father Walsh submitted his resignation as pastor of Saint Maria Goretti Parish.