A longtime Altoona-Johnstown Catholic church clergyman has been suspended from his duties due to accusations of misconduct with a minor that date back three decades.
The Rev. Anthony Petracca, 61, will not be able to work as a priest and must reside at a location where he will have no contact with children, Altoona-Johnstown Diocese Bishop Mark Bartchak said.
Bartchak, through a release to media, said the move stems from an incident alleged to have occurred in the mid-1980s.
Petracca was ordained into the priesthood in 1985.
According to Tribune-Democrat archives, then-Bishop James Hogan assigned Petracca to his first church, Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Altoona in the spring of 1985.
Petracca served there until January 1989, when he was reassigned to St. Andrew Parish in Johnstown.
The Delaware County native served as parochial vicar there – and later spent time at a list of churches in Cambria, Somerset and Blair counties, including Our Mother Of Sorrows and St. Michael Parish in the Johnstown area.
In August 2015, he was named vicar at three Windber parishes: St. Anthony of Padua, Ss. Cyril and Methodius and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton but, according to diocese officials, he recently was reassigned to serve as administrator at Altoona’s Our Lady of Lourdes and given a role as chaplain at UPMC in Altoona.
Diocese spokesman Tony DeGol said Petracca had not yet begun serving in either Altoona assignment when he was placed on leave.
Monsignor Michael Becker is handling duties at the Altoona church and will continue to serve in that role, Bartchak said.
Bartchak said he has notified law enforcement officials of the accusation against Petracca.
Petracca is the latest in a list of Altoona-Johnstown Catholic priests who’ve been accused of inappropriate behavior with children over the past 30 years.
Many of those cases – including high-profile sex abuse claims against onetime priests Francis Luddy and Francis McCaa – occurred in the early to mid-1980s.
“I want to once again stress my commitment to the safety and protection of all children in our Diocese,” said Bartchak, who has served as the Altoona-Johnstown diocese’s bishop since 2011. “Please know that I am taking all necessary steps to ensure the well-being of our youth, and I ask the faithful to join me in praying for all those affected by this case.”
Bartchak said the diocese urges anyone with information about any misconduct involving children to report it to law enforcement immediately.
Information also can be reported to the Pa Child Hotline at 800-932-0313.