Priest’s alleged victim did not want to pursue charges in Ohio County

WHEELING — A victim of a Pittsburgh priest didn’t want to file charges for an alleged “sexual encounter” in Wheeling decades ago, an Ohio County prosecutor said.

The Rev. David F. Dzermejko is among 300 priests named Wednesday in a grand jury report on clergy abuse in six Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania. He has never been charged in connection with the alleged incident in the late 1980s in Wheeling.

On Thursday, Ohio County Prosecutor Scott Smith said he didn’t recall any reports of the incident and initially could not find a record of the matter in the prosecutor’s office.

However, Smith said Friday he found a paper file that contained a letter regarding Dzermejko.

The letter was sent to the prosecutor’s office by the Diocese of Pittsburgh on Feb. 16, 2012.

He said the diocese contacted the prosecutor’s office “to let us know about an allegation regarding that priest and the alleged act that occurred in the late 1980s.”

The letter stated the victim — now an adult male — contacted the diocese “to add credibility to anyone else coming forward” with allegations against Dzermejko.

According to the correspondence, the victim “did not want his name to become public or to take any kind of legal action,” Smith said.

“The diocese, when they contacted us in 2012, indicated the priest had been out of active ministry for the past three or four years due to other allegations,” he said.

The victim contacted the Diocese of Pittsburgh on Jan. 31, 2012. The grand jury report stated, “This adult male reported that he was sexually abused by Dzermejko in the late 1980s when he was 15 to 16 years of age.”

According to the grand jury report, the victim said he had “sexual encounters” with Dzermejko on four occasions. One of the incidents allegedly occurred outside the True Colors bar in the Elm Grove section of Wheeling.

The Pennsylvania grand jury said Dzermejko was reported to have had inappropriate contact with several young boys.

Dzermejko was arrested in April 2013 in Pennsylvania for possession of child pornography. He pleaded guilty in federal court and was sentenced to three years in prison. He began serving that sentence in June 2014.

The grand jury report said the Vatican dismissed Dzermejko from the clerical state in 2015. The grand jury report and the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s website do not indicate his current location.

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