October 14, 2019
Authorities are investigating allegations that a Lehigh County priest sexually abused a minor.
The Rev. Robert J. Potts, 82, pastor of St. Ursula Church in Fountain Hill, has been removed from ministry services. Potts is accused of sexually abused a child in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Diocese of Allentown announced Sunday.
Potts was the pastor at St. George Parish in Shenandoah during the time of the alleged abuses.
The allegation had been reported to the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation program, a fund that pays damages to victims of clergy abuse in the Allentown diocese. Administrators with the program, which is run independently from the diocese, notified the diocese after receiving information about the alleged abuse.
Allentown Bishop Alfred Schlert immediately removed Potts from service and notified authorities.
“The removal of Father Potts from ministry at this time is not a determination of guilt, but rather a precautionary measure until the appropriate investigations are completed,” the Diocese of Allentown said in a statement.
Applications to receive compensation from the program were open from April 23 through Sept. 30.
Potts has been assigned to the following Allentown parishes:
• Immaculate Conception, Jim Thorpe, Carbon County (1964 to 1965)
• St. Joseph, Easton (1965 to 1966)
• St. Vincent de Paul, Minersville, Schuylkill County (1966 to 1967)
• St. Ann, Lansford, Carbon County (1967 to 1969)
• Notre Dame, Bethlehem (1969 to 1970)
• St. Vincent de Paul, Minersville, Schuylkill County (1970 to 1978)
• St. Bernard, Easton (1978 to 1979)
• Sacred Heart, New Philadelphia, Schuylkill County (1979 to 1985)
• St. George, Shenandoah, Schuylkill County (1985 to 2004)
• Added to assignment: Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Shenandoah, Schuylkill County (1986 to 2004)
• Added to assignment: St. Stephen, Shenandoah, Schuylkill County (2001 to 2004)
• St. Mary, Ringtown, Schuylkill County and St. Joseph, Sheppton, Schuylkill County (2004 to 2006)
• St. Ursula, Fountain Hill (2006 to present)
Attorney General Josh Shapiro submitted a 1,000-page Grand Jury report in Aug. 2018 that detailed sexual abuse allegations by more than 300 priests across Pennsylvania. Following the landmark report, a clergy abuse hotline was established, and by August it had received nearly 1,900 calls. Ninety percent of the calls received were related to allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church.
The Pennsylvania Clergy Abuse Hotline phone number is (888) 538-8541.