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Tag: Resurrection Catholic Church Dubuque

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest Leo Riley Accused of Sexually Molesting Four Altar Boys in the 1980s

father leo riley

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Leo Riley, a Roman Catholic priest, stands accused of sexually molesting four altar boys when he was an associate pastor at Resurrection Parish in Dubuque, Iowa in the 1980s.

Channel 2 reports:

A Port Charlotte priest was arrested Wednesday on multiple counts of capital sexual battery, with allegations connected to his previous tenure in the 1980s as a priest in Iowa.

Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office detectives and Dubuque, Iowa, police worked together to arrest Leo P. Riley, 68, at his Port Charlotte home.

According to the Dubuque Police Department, four people reported being sexually abused by Father Riley from 1984 to 1986, when he was the associate pastor of Resurrection Parish in Dubuque. The victims were identified as grade school-aged boys, all serving as altar boys of Resurrection Parish.

The Diocese of Venice told NBC2 that in May of 2023, they learned of sexual misconduct allegations involving Riley. He was immediately put on administrative leave.

CCSO said Riley was last assigned to San Antonio Catholic Church in Port Charlotte. The news caught some parishioners at the church by surprise.

“When we first were told about it, I couldn’t believe it,” parishioner Geraldine Oswald said. “I didn’t know him when he was in Iowa, but when he was here, I just enjoyed him very much.”

Dubuque police arrested Riley for five counts of capital sexual battery within their jurisdiction, CCSO said.

Capital sexual battery refers to an adult over 18 years old sexually battering a child under 12 years old.

Previously, Riley served as a priest at Resurrection Church in Dubuque, Iowa. During the early 2000s, he spent time as a priest at Saint Charles Borromeo in Port Charlotte, St. Peter the Apostle in Naples and Sacred Heart in Punta Gorda.

“Our faith is in Jesus Christ, who founded Catholic Christian Church,” Giacomo Thompson said. “We fully support the police in pursuing their investigation and trial to the full extent of the law. We don’t know any other Catholics that aren’t in agreement with this same position.”

Thompson has been a member of Saint Charles Borromeo for a year and has met Father Riley once.

“We don’t abandon Jesus because of Judas. We will pray for all the victims of abuse, the parishioners and the possible perpetrator,” Thompson said.

CCSO arrested Riley at his home and took him to the Charlotte County Jail overnight.

On Thursday, Riley stood virtually before a judge who is holding him without bond until his hearing on Friday.

NBC2 spoke with Riley’s attorney, who issued the following statement:

“Father Leo Riley has dedicated his life to the Catholic church. He has multiple decades of exemplary and honorable service as a catholic priest. He is baffled by these forty-year-old allegations and vigorously denies any wrongdoing.”

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bruce Gerencser