Diocese of Wilmington Statement regarding the indictment of John Sarro.

January 31, 2018 — (Wilmington, Delaware) — This week, John A. Sarro, 76, a priest of the Diocese of Wilmington, was indicted by a New Castle County grand jury on various sexual abuse charges involving a minor. The abuse occurred in the early 1990s.

In 1997, when the Diocese of Wilmington was first made aware of sexual abuse of a minor by Rev. John A. Sarro, he was removed from ministry, prohibited from celebrating the sacraments in public, and barred from presenting himself as a Catholic priest. The abuse took place in the 1980s in Papua New Guinea where Sarro served as a missionary priest with the Marists, a religious order. Since 2002, Sarro has been living in a monitored residence.

On November 16, 2006, the Diocese of Wilmington became one of the few dioceses to publish the names of any priest, living or dead, about whom the diocese had received admitted, corroborated or otherwise substantiated allegations of sexual abuse. John A. Sarro was included in that published list.

In 2009, Bishop Malooly applied to the Vatican for Sarro’s laicization, but that request was not approved.

In 2011 an individual reported to the Diocese abuse by Sarro at St. Helena Parish in the early 1990s. In accordance with the established reporting protocol, the adult survivor was asked for permission to report the abuse to law enforcement, but at the time, the survivor wanted confidentiality. The survivor was also encouraged to report the abuse.

The Diocese of Wilmington admires survivors of clergy sexual abuse who courageously come forward and report the abuse to civil authorities. Reporting can be an important first step in the process of emotional and spiritual healing.

The policy of the Diocese of Wilmington regarding persons who file complaints regarding past incidences of childhood sexual abuse by a priest or other church personnel is to (a) listen carefully to the allegation, (b) follow reporting protocols and cooperate with civil authority, (c) provide spiritual and psychological counseling to a survivor, and, if necessary, to the survivor’s family, and (d) to reimburse the survivor of such abuse for out of pocket expenses for counseling paid up to the time of the complaint.

The Catholic community in Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore – our diocese – and the Church as a whole, have worked hard to protect our precious children. We must all remain vigilant until child sexual abuse is no longer a part of society.

The Diocese of Wilmington urges anyone who has been sexually exploited or abused by a priest, brother, sister or lay person employed by the Diocese of Wilmington or by a church volunteer in service to a parish or school or other church organization; to report such abuse to the civil authorities and to the diocesan Survivor Assistance Coordinator, Peggy McLaughlin at 302-468-4507. Ms. McLaughlin will take the information about the abuse, offer personal counseling and will ask the survivor’s permission to advise church officials, specifically the Vicar General of the Diocese, about the complaint.

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Media Contact:
Bob Krebs
[email protected]