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Diocese: Priest in Bellmore church removed from ministry

The Diocese of Rockville Centre has removed from ministry an associate pastor at St. Barnabas the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Bellmore “due to inappropriate behavior unrelated to endangering any minor,” the diocese said Wednesday.

The Rev. Charles Omotu was removed and “the matter was reported to law enforcement and is being handled according to appropriate processes,” diocesan spokesman Sean Dolan said in a statement.

“The ongoing investigation by law enforcement has found no evidence of any potential criminal conduct on the part of Father Omotu,” the statement said.

The diocese did not say what the alleged conduct involved or provide further details.

Omotu, 51, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Representatives of the Nassau County district attorney’s office, the Nassau County Police Department and the Village of Rockville Centre police said they were unaware of the case.

Dolan did not say which law enforcement agency the diocese contacted.

“The diocese wanted to ensure that the matter was properly reviewed in an abundance of caution,” Dolan said in a follow-up statement in response to questions. “But the investigation to date has revealed no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.”

Omotu is not a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, meaning he was not trained and ordained here, Dolan said. He is now prohibited from ministering in the diocese, Dolan said.

The Catholic Diocese of Aba in Nigeria, on its website, lists Omotu as one of its priests.

That would make him an “extern” priest in the Diocese of Rockville Centre — a priest who is working here but comes from another diocese, sometimes from outside the United States.

The use of extern priests from other countries has become common in dioceses nationwide as a way to make up for a shortage of priests trained and ordained locally.

St. Barnabas has nearly 5,000 families registered in the parish, according to its website.

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