Father Robert J. Potts, Pastor of St. Ursula Church, Fountain Hill, has been returned to ministry after being cleared of all allegations following a 10-month inquiry conducted by independent investigators.
Father Potts will celebrate Masses at St. Ursula’s this weekend.
The allegation against Father Potts was received by the Washington, D.C., administrators of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, who then notified the Diocese.
On the day the Diocese was notified of the complaint, Bishop Alfred Schlert removed Father Potts from ministry and directed that law enforcement be notified. The Diocese had no knowledge of the complaint before being notified of it.
The person who made the allegation told the Compensation Fund Administrators that Father Potts sexually abused him in the 1980s and early 1990s, when Father Potts, now 83, was pastor of the former St. George Parish, Shenandoah.
The Office of the Schuylkill County District Attorney determined that the case would not be investigated because the Statute of Limitations had passed.
The Diocese then hired independent investigators who pursued all possible leads in the case and determined that Father Potts did not commit the acts that were alleged. The investigative firm, based outside the Diocese, employs retired F.B.I. agents who are trained investigators with decades of experience with the agency.
The Independent Review Board, a group of lay experts in abuse issues formed to review such cases, then considered all of the facts in the case and recommended unanimously that Father Potts be reinstated. Bishop Schlert accepted the recommendation.
Anyone who knows of incidents of abuse should report it to the State ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313 or to local law enforcement. The Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator is available to provide assistance to anyone who, as a minor, was abused by a priest, deacon, employee, or volunteer of the Diocese, or of its parishes. Her direct line is 1-800-791-9209