Allentown diocese removes priest for allegedly taking photos of high school wrestlers

( Photo by James Coleman/Unsplash )

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown has removed a priest from ministry after officials say he was caught taking photographs of high school wrestlers without their knowledge.

Monsignor Thomas Derzack, 70, a pastor at St. Nicholas Parish in Walnutport, is accused of taking the photos during a wrestling tournament at Bethlehem Catholic High School on Dec. 27.

Officials said Derzack photographed the wrestlers from behind as they were waiting to compete in a public area of the gymnasium. He was not dressed in clerical attire.

A spectator at the event reportedly became suspicious, and a police officer providing security at the tournament was notified. The officer then allegedly spoke with Derzack, who agreed to delete the photos and left the event.

Church authorities said they removed Derzack from ministry as a precautionary measure while both Bethlehem police and the diocese investigate.

Derzack was also barred from diocesan school events and school property.

Bishop Alfred Schlert said Derzack’s actions violate diocesan standards for acceptable behavior.

Anyone with information about abuse in the church or elsewhere is urged to contact the State Child-Line at 1-800-932-0313 or local law enforcement. The Diocese of Allentown’s Victim Assistance Coordinator can be reached direcrtly at 1-800-791-9209.

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