NEW YORK – The Archdiocese of New York suspended six of its priests and handed their names to prosecutors over allegations of sexual misconduct, a spokesman said Sunday.
"The priests in question have been informed that they are not to present themselves as priests or exercise their priestly ministry publicly at least until the matter is further clarified or resolved," a statement from the Roman Catholic archdiocese said.
That news came on the heels of the announcement less than a week ago that the archdiocese had given the Manhattan district attorney's office a list of cases involving priests who have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors. It's also the latest in a months-long Church sex scandal that has reached all the way from the lowliest parish priest to the Pope himself.
The New York archdiocese, the nation's third largest with 2.4 million members, did not release the names of the priests because not all of the allegations had been substantiated, archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling said in a statement.
Officials would not comment on when the alleged abuses took place. Zwilling said worshippers from parishes where priests were asked to step down were notified by letter.
Also Sunday, a pastor approached last month about sexual-abuse allegations involving Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony said he believes the claims are false.
Flora Mae Hickman, 51, of Fresno, alleges she was molested by Mahony while a student at San Joaquin Memorial Catholic High School in 1969. After leading Sunday Mass at St. John's Cathedral in Fresno, Calif., Monsignor John Esquivel said, "I don't believe the allegations are true."
Hickman said she has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and is taking medication for depression. She told The Associated Press that she was knocked unconscious while fighting with students and woke to find the "bottom" portion of her clothing removed and Mahony, then a monsignor in Fresno, "over her."
Hickman said she could not remember many details of what happened. She has not alleged that Mahony touched her.
"She claimed that happened with 40 different youths watching. There's no way that is going to happen in front of all those people," Esquivel said.
Hickman went to Esquivel with the allegations last month. The Fresno Police Department is investigating, and Mahony said he was cooperating. Mahony revealed the accusation Friday night and denied it.
The AP does not normally identify alleged victims in sexual-assault cases, but Hickman gave permission for her name to be used.
In other developments:
• The archdiocese in Omaha, Neb., dismissed a priest recently accused of sexually abusing boys more than 30 years ago. The Rev. Thomas Sellentin will no longer serve the two small parishes in east-central Nebraska, Archbishop Elden Curtiss said in a statement Sunday. Although the accusations are too old to be prosecuted, Curtiss felt they were credible enough to remove Sellentin.
There was no telephone listing for Sellentin. Messages left on Sunday night at both parishes were not returned. Sellentin had been with the archdiocese since his ordination in 1965.
• The Rev. Ponciano Ramos, a priest in the San Bernardino Diocese, has resigned after admitting he attacked boys several years ago. Ramos was charged with child molestation for allegedly fondling three boys in Indianapolis in 1992, but pleaded guilty to lesser charges of battery and received an 18-month suspended sentence, the Chicago Tribune reported Sunday.
• The Boston Globe reported Sunday that another priest in the San Bernardino Diocese was transferred from Boston in 1990 even though he had faced decades of sexual abuse complaints.
A lawsuit alleges the Rev. Paul R. Shanley, 71, repeatedly raped a boy during the 1980s when he was pastor of a church in Newton, Mass. The molestation allegedly started when the boy was six and continued until he was 11.
An attorney for alleged victim Gregory Ford, now 24, said he planned to release details Monday of church documents that he alleges show the Boston Archdiocese knew of the complaints.