FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) — The Diocese of Fort-Wayne South Bend has announced that a local priest has been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor.
Fort Wayne's NBC received a statement from The Diocese that says the organization received an allegation on Dec. 10 against Father Joseph Gaughan, claiming he sexually abused a minor.
Father Joseph Gaughan is in his 14th year as the lead pastor, serving Most Precious Blood Parish in Fort Wayne.
But the alleged abuse occurred over 20 years ago while he served at Saint Anthony de Padua Parish in South Bend.
The Diocese says it has determined the allegation to be credible and has informed police and church officials in Rome. Father Gaughan has also been placed on administrative leave.
The allegations are triggering shock and concern for people at Most Precious Blood.
"He is a kind, generous man, I don't suspect anything of him being wrong," said Helen Didion, who attends the church and volunteers there.
"It can't be true, I know that. In my heart, I just know it's not true," she said.
Read their full statement here:
On December 10, 2019, the Diocese of Fort-Wayne South Bend received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor which has been lodged against Father Joseph Gaughan. Father Gaughan most recently served as the pastor of Most Precious Blood Parish in Fort Wayne. However, the abuse is alleged to have occurred over 20 years ago while he was the associate pastor at Saint Anthony de Padua Parish in South Bend.
The Diocese has determined the allegation to be credible and has informed civil authorities. The case is being sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in Rome for adjudication. As required by canon law, Father Gaughan has been placed on administrative leave. Please know, however, that Father Gaughan is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
The Diocese is following the Church’s required protocols from the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People for responding effectively, appropriately, and compassionately to all allegations of sexual abuse of minors. We are committed to providing a safe environment for all people, especially the young and vulnerable.
The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend extends our heartfelt prayers to all who are affected by this news.
We spoke to a mother with three boys who lives near the church.
She only wanted to be identified as Amber, saying the allegations really bother her.
She claims she has observed Father Gaughan relate to little girls he comes in contact with differently than how he treats boys.
"He just kind of shoos them (girls) off, but when a little boy has a conversation, he's all about it, touches them on the shoulder, arm around them. I've known something has been up for years," Amber said.
We spoke with Mary Glowaski, a special assistant to Bishop Kevin Rhoades, who counsels victims from the local diocese who come forward with allegations of sexual abuse involving a priest.
"To make sure that they get what they need so they can move towards healing. The transparency is also for them, to make sure they know exactly what's happening and when it's happening. Just to create a sense of real trust. I mean, the trust has been broken, so our hope is to create a sense of trust," Glowaski said.