East Rockaway deacon steps down after sexual abuse allegation

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A deacon in East Rockaway has been removed from his position by the Diocese of Rockville Centre as law enforcement officials and church administrators investigate an allegation that he sexually abused a minor 26 years ago.

Richard W. LaRossa, 72, a deacon at the Church of St. Raymond of Penyafort in East Rockaway, has stepped aside as the probe continues.

In a statement, the Diocese of Rockville Centre confirmed that action was taken to relieve LaRossa from his duties until the conclusion of the investigation.

"The alleged abuse is reported to have occurred approximately 26 years ago, but was only recently reported to the Office for the Protection of Children and Young People of the Diocese of Rockville Centre," the statement on the diocese's website reads. " ... Deacon LaRossa has agreed to step away from ministry while the required processes and procedures are undertaken."

According to the diocese, The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People establishes specific guidelines when an allegation is made against a clergy member. An investigation begins when an accusation is made, and in this case, the allegation against LaRossa was reported to law enforcement officials in accordance with the outlined processes and procedures in the Diocesan Child Protection Policy.

The allegations come in the wake of four priests from the Rockville Centre diocese stepping aside after being accused of sexual abuse.

The diocese urges anyone who has encountered sexual abuse to come forward, regardless of when it occurred, by contacting local law enforcement officials and the Office for the Protection of Children and Young People hotline at (516) 594-9063. A call to that office will be returned by a licensed mental health counselor and will remain confidential except to the extent the diocese is obligated to report allegations to law enforcement.