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Catholic Priest Investigation

‚ÄčSexual Abuse Investigation of a Former Berks County Catholic Priest

On August 24, 2018, the Berks County District Attorney's Child Abuse Detectives received a ChildLine report of an alleged sexual child abuse incident to a preteen female victim. Subsequently, detectives immediately initiated an investigation into the allegation. This allegation was reported by the biological father of the victim. The father did not have any basis to name Reverent David C. Gillis, but mentioned him because he was a priest at St. John the Baptist de La Salle School in Shillington, Berks County.

During the investigation, the detectives learned that the alleged victim would have been approximately 8 years of age or older around the time of the alleged incident while attending St. John's. Also, it was alleged that a catholic priest, the Reverent Gillis, was the suspect of the abuse.

Reverent Gillis was assigned to the parish from June of 1996 to June 2005. In 2005,  Reverend Gillis transferred from the Allentown Catholic Diocese to the Diocese of Orlando, Florida, at his request for personal reasons.

As a result of the investigation, Bishop Alfred A. Schlert of the Diocese of Allentown reported the allegation of sexual abuse of a minor, involving Reverend Gillis to Berks County District Attorney, John T. Adams, and the Diocese of Orlando as Reverend Gillis ministered at the Diocese of Orlando.

Reverend Gillis was removed from his duties by both Bishop Alfred Schlert of Allentown and Orlando Bishop John Noonan pending the outcome of the investigation.

As a result of our thorough investigation, it has been determined the allegation of child sexual abuse against Reverend Gillis was false. The alleged victim disclosed to our detectives, in an interview, that she was not sexually abused by Reverend Gillis. Additionally, detectives interviewed other individuals of interest and found no evidence to substantiate the allegation against Reverend Gillis.

"It is unfortunate that the accusation of child sexual abuse against Reverend Gillis was made public by the Diocese of Orlando before the outcome of this investigation could be determined. These types of investigations are very sensitive in nature. Many times when the accused is publicly mentioned prematurely, without any factual basis, it can compromise an investigation. With regard to Reverend Gillis or any individual subject to an accusation, we must be cognizant that the accused has the right to due process." - District Attorney John T. Adams

The Berks County District Attorney's Office will continue to pursue any information or leads concerning child sexual abuse within the Diocese of Allentown. The safety and well-being of our most-vulnerable population remains a priority. If you are a victim or you suspect sexual child abuse, please contact our office at 610-478-7171 or ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313.