Walnutport Priest Removed From Ministry After Allegedly Photographing High School Wrestlers From Behind: Dioceses

NORTHAMPTON COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) — A Walnutport priest has been removed from ministry after the Diocese of Allentown says he was observed taking photos of high school wrestlers from behind without their knowledge. Rev. Monsignor Thomas A. Derzack was also banned from diocesan school events and properties.

The diocese says the 70-year-old Derzack was seen photographing the high school wrestlers during a tournament at the Bethlehem Catholic High School on Dec. 27. Derzack allegedly was taking photos of the wrestlers from behind as they were waiting to compete.

Police were notified of the incident by a spectator and Derzack agreed to delete the photos after speaking with an officer before leaving the tournament, officials say.

Derzack was removed as a precaution, the diocese says.

“The incident was handled in accordance with child protection procedures put in place by the Diocese. When a vigilant adult raised a concern about suspicious behavior, it was addressed immediately, the authorities were notified, and the Bishop removed the priest from ministry,” the diocese said in a statement.

The diocese, along with police, is continuing to investigate the allegations.

A panel of lay experts will then review the investigation to determine Derzack’s fitness for ministry.