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Diocese: Deacon in East Rockaway steps down after abuse allegation

The Church of St. Raymond of Penyafort in

The Church of St. Raymond of Penyafort in East Rockaway. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Roman Catholic deacon in East Rockaway has stepped aside while church and law enforcement officials investigate an allegation that he sexually abused a minor 26 years ago, the Diocese of Rockville Centre said.

Richard W. LaRossa, 72, has been serving as a deacon of the Church of St. Raymond of Penyafort, diocesan spokesman Sean Dolan said.

LaRossa couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.

The diocese has notified law enforcement authorities of the allegation, Dolan said.

Nassau County prosecutors learned of the allegation Thursday and are encouraging anyone with information to contact the district attorney's Special Victims Bureau, spokesman Brendan Brosh said.

Dolan didn't provide details of the allegation, which was reported to the diocese’s Office for the Protection of Children and Young People.

“We ask for your prayers during these days, which are difficult for all of those involved,” Dolan said.

LaRossa has led two mission trips every June to Guatemala, where St. Raymond has two sister parishes, according to a diocesan website.

Deacons are ordained but, unlike priests, don't take a vow of celibacy and can marry. They perform many of the same parish duties, such as officiating at weddings and reading the Gospels, but can't hear confession, administer last rites or preside over Mass.

Since September, four priests in the Rockville Centre diocese have stepped aside due to sexual abuse allegations.

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