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Former priest taken off sex abuse list

YOUNGSTOWN — A former Youngstown priest who had served at St. Edward Parish has been removed from a list of clergy members accused of sexual abuse.

The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown on Monday announced former Rev. William Smaltz was being removed from the list after further investigation and new information that allegations made earlier against him “are no longer deemed to be credible and substantiated.”

The former priest’s adult son, reached Monday night, said the alleged incident never happened, and the allegations have left his father distraught and under severe mental stress.

The diocese previously had compiled a list of names of clergy who were subject to credible allegations of sexual abuse against a minor. Smaltz’s name was first released as part of that list in October 2018.

In addition to St. Edward, Smaltz also served at St. Mary Parish in Massillon; Our Lady of Lourdes in East Palestine; and St. Mary Parish in Conneaut.

Monsignor John Zuraw, chancellor for the diocese, said Smaltz was ordained into the priesthood in the mid-1950s and stayed in the ministry for about 18 years before leaving the priesthood in the early 1970s.

Zuraw said after the original list came out, Smaltz provided the diocese with information that was later determined to be “convincing evidence” the charges against him were not credible.

Zuraw said Smaltz’s information was reviewed, and it was determined that the allegations against him were not credible. Zuraw said the diocese had not been able to reach Smaltz at that time, until he contacted the diocese.

Smaltz, now 89, Monday evening said his prayers were answered by having his name cleared.

His son, Billy Smaltz, said his father had hired an attorney to help clear his name. He said the allegations had nothing to do with his dad leaving the priesthood.

“There are good priests like my father getting sucked into this whirlpool of accusations. Somebody needs to be accountable for this,” Billy Smaltz said by telephone. “This is a huge redemptive story that a lot of people need to hear. His name has been cleared, and we want the public to know about it.”

The younger Smaltz said his father has been under severe mental stress since the accusations were made public about two years ago.

“He was so distraught because he had served his people so well. There were a lot of holes in the accuser’s story. It never happened,” the son said.

The accuser did not come back to the diocese for a second interview after the former priest said he and his attorney answered the charge.

The original list included the names of 31 priests who had served in the diocese over its 75-year history with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor made against them.

More than 1,000 priests and other religious leaders have served the diocese since its founding in 1943.

Other priests have been added and removed to the abuse list. Some 22 of the clergy on the list have died. Diocesesan officials said they were not aware of criminal prosecutions of any of the priests on the list.

Bishop George Murry had said in 2018 that 76 victim allegations had been investigated, and more than $500,000 in settlements had been paid to victims.

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