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News Nearby: Sewickley Priest Takes Leave of Absence During Investigation

The Allegheny County District Attorney's Office and the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese are investigating amidst Facebook allegations.

The priest at has taken a leave of absence during an ongoing investigation from the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office involving Facebook messages to a minor, according to the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese.

Pittsburgh Catholic Bishop David Zubik said in a letter posted on the parish's website that a complaint was recently made against the Rev. Dan Valentine regarding Facebook postings that the St. James priest made to a minor. 

“As a result of the complaint, I directed my staff to share all information with the office of the District Attorney of Allegheny County,” Zubik wrote in a letter that was read to parishioners Sunday.

Zubik said the DA’s office informed the diocese that while the postings were "a matter of poor judgment," there was no criminal activity involved.

An internal diocesan audit is now taking place as a followup to the district attorney's office findings. 

Zubik said he has directed the DA’s office to do a forensic audit of the computers at St. James Parish as well as Valentine's private computer.

The Rev. Ron Lengwin, diocese spokesman, said it is unclear how long the internal investigation will take. 

“It is the bishop’s hope he’ll be able to return to ministry soon,” Lengwin said.

Lengwin could not comment on the nature of the Facebook posts.

Valentine took a leave of absence beginning May 19, Lengwin said. He has been St. James' priest for six years.

The Very Rev. Samuel J. Esposito has assumed the responsibilities of a temporary administrator in the priest’s absence.

“Father Valentine is fully cooperating with this ongoing investigation," Zubik wrote to parishioners. "Given the nature of this matter, Father Valentine has seen the wisdom of beginning a leave of absence until the investigation is completed.”

Valentine was born and raised in Bethel Park. He served in the Marine Corps and was ordained a priest in 1974 for the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese, serving in three parishes as a parochial vicar before he became a chaplain in the U.S. Navy. 

Zubik asked parishioners to pray for Valentine and for the parish, and said he plans to be present as necessary throughout the coming weeks.

 

This story originally appeared on Sewickley Patch.

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