SUMMIT – The chaplain of Oratory Preparatory School has been placed on leave pending a criminal investigation, school and diocesan officials said.
The Rev. Salvatore DiStefano is on indefinite leave pending an investigation by both law enforcement and the Archdiocese of Newark regarding “complaints issued over the last several days,” the school’s administration wrote in a letter.
The letter, signed by Head of School Bob Costello, Walter Crum, the special assistant to the head of school and director of strategic relationships, and Director of Major and Annual Gifts Kevin Donnelly, said, “Our School Administration has been and will continue to be fully compliant and transparent. During this time, there is no further information that can be shared because of the active legal investigation.”
The nature of the allegations made against DiStefano was unclear.
“The Archdiocese of Newark is cooperating with the Union County Prosecutor’s Office with respect to complaints issued in the past several days regarding Rev. Salvatore DiStefano, an Archdiocesan priest who serves as Chaplain at Oratory Catholic Preparatory School in Summit, N.J.,” Maria Margiotta, director of communications and public relations for the Archdiocese of Newark, said in a statement.
“The Archdiocese also stresses that Fr. DiStefano’s leave should not be interpreted as punishment and he continues to have the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise,” Margiotta added.
Oratory Prep is a day school for boys in grades 7-12.
Margiotta said the “Archdiocese emphasizes that the safety of minors and students is of utmost concern and that it will strictly follow policies and procedures in line with protecting the faithful and providing a safe environment.”
The Union County Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment citing policy prohibiting the discussion of pending investigations.
DiStefano is certified as a school administrator, supervisor of guidance, school counselor, board certified pastoral counselor and certified crisis negotiator, according to his biography on the school’s website. He also holds a New York City Public Schools Elementary and High School Principal’s license.
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DiStefano previously served as a law enforcement officer with the New York City Department of Probation, the New York State Court System and the New York City Police Department Division of School Safety, according to his biography.
The school has informed parents and students of the developing situation and continues to be fully cooperative, Margiotta said.
The school has a campus ministry staff who will continue to maintain all the school’s religious education, liturgical, and service programs, Margiotta said. Daily and monthly school-wide Masses will continue.
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“Oratory Prep has long been an exemplary academic institution rooted in Catholic values and will continue to maintain those standards to provide the best experience possible for all its students,” she said.
Margiotta added the Archdiocese of Newark “takes very seriously any and all credible complaints of sexual misconduct or sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy, religious, lay staff and volunteers of the Archdiocese.”
Any person who wishes to report an incident of sexual abuse of a minor committed by a member of the clergy, religious, lay staff or volunteer of the Archdiocese of Newark should contact their county prosecutor and the Archdiocesan Office for the Protection of the Faithful at 973-497-4254, she said. For more information, visit online at www.rcan.org and click on the “Safe Environment” tab.
Nick Muscavage is a watchdog reporter for the Courier News, Home News Tribune and MyCentralJersey.com. To get unlimited access to his investigative work that has exposed wrongdoing and changed state law, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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