A prominent New York-based anti-LGBTQI Catholic priest, with an extensive history of making homophobic and misogynistic statements, is being investigated for allegedly sexually assaulting a security guard after she caught him on tape watching gay porn. Father George Rutler, a long-time supporter of US President Donald Trump and known for his work on Catholic TV network Eternal World Television (EWTN), has denied the allegations.

The Archdiocese of New York said that it is cooperating with the investigation and that Rutler “is not currently serving as a priest.” The NYPD and the district attorney’s office both said that they won’t comment on the ongoing investigation. EWTN said they have pulled shows that featured Rutler. 

Ashley Gonzalez was hired in November as an overnight security guard at St. Michael The Archangel Church in New York City.  She caught Rutler watching the video on her second shift on the job on November 4 and recorded him. 

Reports from The National Catholic Reporter said that it had obtained 18 seconds of mobile phone footage that shows the back of a bald man watching two men engage in oral sex on a computer in a room with religious icons on the wall. Rutler is a 75-year-old man who is bald but in the video his identity cannot be determined. 

Gonzalez, who is 22-years-of-age, said that Rutler “aggressively threw himself on me and grabbed me sexually, aggressively, and I was fighting him off of me.” She said he attacked her “like a monster.”

A series of texts followed the event where Gonzalez told her mum that she was worried that the priest would sexually assault her. This led to Gonzalez later taking it upon herself to hire a personal investigator, who filed a report to the police on her behalf alleging that Rutler closed the door after he was caught, to keep Gonzalez from escaping, and then grabbed her.

“He looked at me with a smile, looked away, and he put his hand inside his pants, and he was playing with himself,” said Gonzalez. “He aggressively threw himself on me and grabbed me sexually, aggressively, and I was fighting him off of me.”

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 Gonzalez says that she turned over her phone footage to police and sent it to the Archdiocese of New York and to the Vatican.

Rutler wrote a letter addressing this accusation to parishioners, denying the accusations which he said were “incoherent and painful to my reputation and inconsistent with how I have conducted myself in 50 years of ministerial service without any accusation of misbehaviour.”

Rutler is a long-time Trump supporter who has a lengthy history of anti-LGBTQI statements, dating back to 1990. Rutler previously wrote that the priesthood should be reserved for men because “God made males and females equal but different” and “any contradiction of that is a homosexual vision of culture.”

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 He also wrote that “the abortionists and the sodomites” are “allied” because they both want to kill people. “When homosexualists (sic) are infecting each other lethally, and abortionists are killing unborn children, they are united in a commitment to death and to self-destruction.

“Once you start telling people they can have safe sex, you are telling them that they can live a fantasy and pretend it’s real,” he wrote, adding that “the only real sex” is sex for “the procreation of life.

“If people want to engage in aberrant sexual activities, well, by all means then they are free to do so. They are free to pay the penalty.”

In 2018 Rutler said that “the Vatican has become a theological Chernobyl” because of Pope Francis’ more liberal views on a number of issues, including tolerance of LGBTQI people and the death penalty. In 2019  Rutler slammed openly gay Irish Leader Leo Varadkar for his sexual orientation. 

Gonzalez said that her trust in the church is shaken since the incident, “I was raised to respect them and look up to them, and now I’m disgusted.”

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

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