San Diego

Review of Decades-Old Misconduct Claim Leads to Priest's Suspension

Father Justin Langille most recently assisted on weekends at St. Therese in Del Cerro and Ascension Catholic Church in Tierrasanta

A San Diego Catholic priest has been suspended by the local diocese upon review of a decades-old accusation of sexual misconduct involving a teenager.

Father Justin Langille, 65, was suspended by the Catholic Diocese of San Diego and is no longer allowed to function publicly as a priest in any diocese in the world, according to a statement released by the local diocese.

According to the diocese, Langille hasn't had a full-time assignment since 2013 but has assisted on weekends at St. Therese in Del Cerro and Ascension Catholic Church in Tierrasanta.

Langille was accused of inappropriate contact with a female teenager in the early-1990s, the diocese said. The report was brought to the church in the mid-1990s and examined once in 1995 and again in 2002. Both times, the diocese concluded the allegation was unsubstantiated.

The diocese did not say where the alleged incident occurred.

Langille passed a polygraph test in 2002 which was a major determining factor at the time, according to the diocese.

Upon reexamination of his case by the diocese's Independent Review Board (IRB) last month, the board advised San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy that the accusation was credible, and McElroy accepted the findings.

The IRB commissioned a professional investigator who found new information that "substantially undermined the credibility of Fr. Langille and his denials," the diocese said.

"The Independent Review Board subsequently concluded overwhelmingly that Fr. Langille had violated the standards of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in his actions, and for this reason I removed Fr. Langille from public ministry," explained Bp. McElroy.

Langille was then suspended from publicly functioning as a priest anywhere in the world per the church's zero-tolerance policy.

"I would never think that," parent Michelle Morrealle said. "He was a very approachable, humble type of person that you felt comfortable talking to,"

Morrealle said Langille seemed like a nice guy when he presided over her daughter's First Communion.

An announcement about Langille will be made at both parishes next weekend and his name will be added to the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.sdcatholic.orglist of credibly-accused priests maintained by the local diocese.

The diocese says two months ago the IRB started reviewing sexual abuse allegations against current priests that were evaluated before the board was formed in 2004.

"I felt strongly that even older, previously decided cases involving currently serving priests would benefit from being examined by the Independent Review Board," said Bp. McElroy. "The voice of the laity needs to be heard on these matters and the independent board, with members that include attorneys, criminal investigators, psychologists and a clergy abuse victim, provides the diocese with exceptionally valuable guidance and expertise."

Victims can report abuse by clergy to the Victim Assistance Office at (858) 490-8353.

In October, the Diocese of San Diego began hosting listening sessions at local parishes where community and clergy members could discuss the ongoing abuse problems within the church. There are three more scheduled sessions.

No other information was available.

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