Former Tidioute priest defrocked after allegations

A priest who formerly served as a pastor in Port Allegany and an administrator in Tidioute has been removed from ministry.

According to a Saturday release from the Diocese of Erie, Father Charles ‘Chuck’ Schmitt has been prohibited from all public ministry as well as from any contact with minors.

The action was taken after “an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor dating back to the 1960s was received through the hotline established by the Diocese of Erie,” according to the release. “The matter has been turned over to the Erie County District Attorney and Bishop (Lawrence T.) Persico has initiated an independent investigation through the K&L Gates law firm.”

Schmitt retired in 2006 as pastor of St. Gabriel Parish in Port Allegany. He had served after that as temporary administrator in Tidioute, Emporium, and Emlenton.

Persico said the news is ‘disheartening,’ according to the release.

“This is a very difficult time for the Catholic Church, but we must face the truth,” Persico said. “In collaboration with law enforcement, victims are finding their voice and helping us to ensure we are living out the principles we proclaim.”

The diocese encourages victims of sexual abuse or misconduct by any representative of the church to contact law enforcement. Victims and concerned individuals may contact the independent investigator via email to eriercd@klgates.com, or the diocese directly at 814-451-1543. Anyone may report suspected abuse of minors by anyone to PA ChildLine at 800-932-0313.

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