Omaha Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse
Omaha, NE - In a letter sent out to parishoners at St. Bernadette Catholic Church, Reverend Al Salanitro denies sexually abusing a minor. Two weeks ago, a Carter Lake man came forward saying Salanitro abused him when he was 11 years old - from 1991 to 1994. During those years, Salanitro was an assistant pastor at Omaha Holy Cross Catholic Church. The alleged victim did not go there.
"We never hope that this is true, but it can't go unattended," Deacon Tim McNeil said.
Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor of the Omaha Archdiocese, says church officials immediately notified police then sat down with the alleged victim to learn more. "He recounted the experience, he was a little emotional, he was hurt, he was painful but he felt like at this time of his life he could deal with it and talk about it," McNeil said.
Salanitro is on a voluntary leave of absence, pending an investigation by both the church and Omaha police. "We'll make a determination after the police investigate to see if there's enough evidence to file any kind of charge," Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said.
In the meantime, church officials will work to uncover the truth and determine if Salanitro will return to the ministry.
"It's our hope that it's false and he can be exonerated and go back into ministry again. If there is sufficient evidence then we have to continue to follow the church process," McNeil said.