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Diocese of Buffalo puts priest on leave over 2011 allegation

The allegation involving the Rev. Peter J. Karalus has also been forwarded to the Erie County District Attorney.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Rev. Peter J. Karalus has been placed on administrative leave, the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo announced Saturday.

The Diocese, in a statement, said the decision stems from "an allegation of sexual misconduct by a person who was a minor in 2011, when the incident allegedly occurred."

The Diocese said the allegation has also been forwarded to the Erie County District Attorney.

Father Karalus has been serving as the Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia.

Monsignor Salvatore Manganello, the Judicial Vicar and Pastor of St. Louis Catholic Church, will temporarily fill Father Karalus' role as Vicar General.

Walter J. Szczesny, who once served as Director of Vocations and is now the pastor of Our Lady of Peace in Clarence, will fill in as the Moderator of the Curia.

"An investigation into the allegation will now be conducted by an independent investigator, according to protocols and procedures that the Diocese has established, and the results of that investigation will be referred to the Independent Review Board for further consideration and its recommendation," the Diocese said in the statement.

"Please note that this administrative leave is for the purpose of investigation and does not imply any determination about the truth or falsity of the complaint."

Father Karalus issued a statement in response to the allegations:

"I emphatically deny and confidently declare as false the allegation that I offered words of inappropriate content to a penitent during the Sacrament of Reconciliation nine years ago.

"I do not recall this confession, nor can I reveal the content of any confession due to the sacred integrity of the Sacrament. I can, however, say that over my many years of ministry, I have learned common responses of advice and guidance to offer penitents. In this case, I am certain that my comments, intended as advice, were misunderstood, misinterpreted, or not comprehended in the manner they were offered.

"I trust and will fully cooperate in the process that will investigate this misplaced allegation. I am confident I will be fully exonerated."

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