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Deacon At Westchester Church Removed Amid Sex Abuse Claims

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The deacon of the Holy Name of Mary Parish in Westchester County has been removed from ministry amid allegations of sexual abuse several years ago.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan announced Sunday that he has issued a letter to parishioners of the church, in Croton-on-Hudson, informing them of the dismissal of Deacon Albert Mazza. The Rev. Edward Weber, direct of priest personnel for the New York Archdiocese, read the letter at Sunday masses.

Mazza's dismissal comes after two other pastors at Holy Name of Mary Parish were also dismissed from the priesthood for sexual abuse allegations.

In the letter, Dolan noted that the Westchester County District Attorney's office had notified the Archdiocese of the allegations against Mazza, and the deacon was immediately put on leave for an investigation. Last week, the archdiocesan review board recommended that Mazza be removed from the ministry permanently.

"As you know, the Church learned a painful lesson in not communicating the abuse of minors to the faithful as soon as it became aware of it," Dolan wrote. "Now, the Church leads the way with action and transparency, with this sad situation here at this parish serving as an example."

The letter did not specify exactly what Mazza was accused of doing, exactly when the alleged abuse happened "beyond many years ago," or any information about the victims other than "minors."

Mazza has served as a permanent deacon at Holy Name of Mary Parish since 1996.

Previously, the Rev. Kenneth Jesselli was removed from the parish and priesthood in 2002 amid child sex abuse allegations in 2002, according to the Hudson Valley Reporter. His immediate predecessor, the Rev. Gennaro "Father Jerry" Gentile, was removed for the same reason, the newspaper reported.

The letter advised anyone who has anything to report about Mazza and his conduct contact a victims' assistance coordinator – Sister Eileen Clifford O.P. at (212) 371-1000 ext. 2949, or Deacon George J. Coppola at (917) 861-1762.

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