A Roman Catholic priest who spent time in parishes in Nanuet and Carmel has been removed from the ministry after a 17-year-old at a Staten Island church accused the clergyman of inappropriately touching him, according to published reports.
The Staten Island Advance reported yesterday that the Rev. Christopher Pliauplis, 57, who was in charge of the religious education program at St. Patrick's Church, was placed on leave and removed from the parish in March. After a review by the Archdiocese of New York and a recommendation to Cardinal Edward Egan, Pliauplis was told Tuesday that he could no longer present himself as a priest.
Pliauplis' accuser said the priest grabbed his genitals while they passed each other in a school hallway Jan. 18.
Pliauplis told the Advance that he had been falsely accused and his lawyer said they will appeal his removal from the priesthood to the Vatican. He is not facing criminal charges.
Prior to his service on Staten Island, Pliauplis was assigned to St. Anthony's Church in Nanuet and St. James the Apostle Church in Carmel.
Messages left yesterday afternoon for the Rev. Anthony Sorgie, pastor of St. James the Apostle, weren't returned. A parishioner, Kristine Mandara, said she couldn't recall Pliauplis, who was sent to St. James in 2003 and spent about two years there.
"Every allegation on everyone needs to be checked out," she said of the Staten Island situation. "Hopefully, it's not true."
Anne Malloy of West Nyack has worshiped at St. Anthony's for many years, serving as the church's director of religious education for the past 13 years.
Malloy said she was "certainly surprised" at the allegations against Pliauplis.
"He doesn't seem like the kind of ... guy that would be involved with anything like that," she said, describing Pliauplis as quiet.
The Rev. William Reynolds, pastor at St. Anthony's for 20 years, said he heard about the allegations a month ago.
"There was no indication of anything like that here," Reynolds said, noting that most of the church members likely know nothing about the accusation.
Reynolds said Pliauplis, who came to the church in September 1997 and stayed for five years, worked mainly with the church's elderly population, except when teaching at the church's adjacent school.
"He never showed an interest in young people," he said.