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Priest accused of abuse leading mass at Catholic church in McCall, popular podcast says

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Local bishop

The Diocese of Boise released a statement Wednesday that responds to a new report that says a priest, who is accused of abuse in Italy while working for Gonzaga University, is now leading mass in McCall. 

BOISE — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise responded Wednesday after an investigation done by Reveal, a national public radio show and podcast, outlined past abuse allegations made against a current Idaho priest.

The podcast, “Unrepentant,” was posted online June 20 and outlines the story of two priests accused of abuse and their victims’ attempts to report it. One of those priests, the Rev. Bruno Segatta, is currently assigned to McCall’s Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Cascade’s St. Katharine Drexel Station and Riggins’ St. Jerome’s Chapel.

“Father Bruno Segatta denies these allegations of an incident that allegedly occurred nearly 30 years ago while he was employed by Gonzaga University,” the Diocese of Boise said in a written statement Wednesday. “The matter was handled internally between Gonzaga University and Father Segatta.”

Segatta is also listed as visiting priest at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Boise. The Our Lady of the Lake’s parish website has been posting videos of mass during the coronavirus pandemic, and Segatta was last seen offering mass as recently as Sunday.

Reported by Emily Schwing, the podcast dives into the story of a woman who claims she was abused by Segatta while studying abroad in Italy. At the time, Segatta worked for Gonzaga University, a Catholic university in Spokane, and he led tours for students in Italy, according the report. The woman claimed Segatta harassed her after the abuse, and the church ignored her complaints.

The woman said she made repeated attempts to report Segatta and said she was told in 2018 by the Diocese of Boise that he would no longer be allowed to actively say mass in the Diocese of Boise. Reveal found the statement was false, and Segatta was still working as a priest.

“The statements in the story that the Diocese of Boise did not respond to (the victim’s) allegations are false. The Diocese of Boise takes very seriously any claims of sexual misconduct, investigates those claims and protects the confidentiality of all involved,” the Diocese wrote in the statement. “The woman making the allegation approached the Diocese of Boise on three occasions. The first two times were when Father Segatta was employed by Gonzaga University, not the Diocese of Boise. While most of the matter was left to Gonzaga since Father Segatta was not employed by the Diocese at the time, the Diocese nevertheless responded to the woman’s allegations.”

The third time the victim approached the Diocese was when Segatta returned to the Diocese of Boise.

“At that time, Father Segatta had his faculties briefly removed while the Diocese investigated the matter further,” the church said in a statement. “The Diocese was not able to corroborate the woman’s allegations even with information she provided us, so Father Segatta’s faculties were restored.”

The Diocese said there have been no other reports of sexual misconduct against Segatta in his 44 years as a priest.

The podcast also reports on a second priest in an Alaska Native village who is accused of sexual abuse by several young men in the podcast.

To listen to Reveal’s podcast, visit revealnews.org.

The troubles with transparency aren’t new in Idaho churches. An investigation in 2018 by the Idaho Statesman found that Diocese members knew about abuse allegations made against the Rev. James McSorley in 1971 and failed to report him to authorities.

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