Norfolk priest on “leave” over youth interaction complaints

NORFOLK — A Catholic priest here is on “leave” as the diocese in Richmond look at complaints “concerning his interactions with young people.”

Bishop of Richmond Barry C. Knestout stressed in a Dec. 8 letter to parishioners that Rev. Joseph Metzger of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church has not been accused of child sexual abuse.

He said the complaints made to the Catholic Diocese of Richmond’s Safe Environment Office concerned interactions “not in keeping with the Code of Conduct with Minors.” The diocese has a 13-point code of conduct designed to “provide a safe environment” for minors and vulnerable adults.

Diocese spokeswoman Deborah Cox told The Associated Press that Metzger’s conduct will be reviewed by two separate panels. One is the priest personnel board. The other is the Diocesan Review Board, which consists mostly of lay people not employed by the church.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.