GATES — Father John J. Steger, pastor of St. Jude the Apostle Church, 4100 Lyell Road, was slated to appear in Gates Town Court May 24 to face two misdemeanor counts of sexual abuse in the second degree and two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
Father Steger voluntarily surrendered to Gates Police on May 17, according to Gates Police Chief Thomas J. Roche. The chief said the charges stemmed from two incidents that allegedly took place inside St. Jude’s rectory. One incident allegedly took place in April, the other in early May, he said.
The victim of the alleged incidents was a 12-year-old girl doing chores in the rectory, Roche said. He added that there were no witnesses, and that the alleged incidents took place in a “private area” of the rectory.
Roche said the girl told her parents about the alleged incidents. The parents then contacted the diocese, which informed police, he said.
Father Steger was arraigned in Gates Town Court May 17, and released on his own recognizance. The priest has been ordered not to have any contact with the girl or her family, Roche said.
The Diocese of Rochester issued a statement May 17, noting that Father Steger has been placed on administrative leave pending disposition of the charges against him. This measure was taken in compliance with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the statement noted.
Under the terms of the leave, Father Steger is not allowed to engage in any public ministry, the diocese said.
A diocesan priest since 1951, Father Steger has been St. Jude’s first and only pastor since his appointment there in 1968. Before being assigned to St. Jude’s, Father Steger served at St. Theodore Church, Gates; St. Alphonsus Church, Auburn; and St. Joseph Church, Wayland.
Both Chief Roche and the diocese noted that the diocese has fully cooperated in the police investigation.
The diocese also asked victims of abuse by any representative of the church to contact the civil authorities. To receive help and guidance from the diocese, victims also may call Barbara Pedeville, victims assistance coordinator, at 585/328-3228, ext. 1215.