GATES — Father John J. Steger, pastor of St. Jude the Apostle Church, 4100 Lyell Road, pleaded not guilty May 24 to two misdemeanor counts of sexual abuse in the second degree and two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child, according to his attorney, John F. Speranza.
During proceedings in Gates Town Court, Speranza asked for time to review the case, and Justice Peter Papatelli adjourned it until July 12.
Gates Police Chief Thomas J. Roche said the charges stemmed from two incidents that allegedly took place inside St. Jude’s rectory: one in April, the other in early May.
The victim of the alleged incidents was a 12-year-old girl doing chores in the rectory, Roche said. The chief said the girl told her parents about the alleged incidents, and that the parents then contacted the Diocese of Rochester. The diocese notified police.
A May 17 statement from the diocese said Father Steger has been placed on administrative leave pending disposition of the charges. Father Steger is not allowed to engage in any public ministry during the leave, the diocese said.
Carmen Howe, who said she attended St. Jude’s, was one of several people who appeared in court to support Father Steger. She said parishioners had been praying for him.
“He always helps people who need help,” Howe said.