A Queens priest is under federal investigation for allegedly violating child pornography laws.
Monsignor Michael Dempsey of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Forest Hills, seen above, was placed on administrative leave after the Brooklyn Diocese learned of the investigation.
That means Dempsey cannot present himself as a priest, present sacraments, or wear his robe.
In a statement, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said, "The steps we have taken are essential to maintaining our commitment to the bishops’ Charter and Norms. It is a responsibility we take seriously."
Dempsey has been the executive director of pastoral communications at the church since 1978.
Parishioners were read a letter at this past weekend's Mass informing them of the situation.
"There was a little bit of a collective gasp. Some people took it harder than others but you take hope that they are following these types of situation and handling them as they should," said one parishioner.
This is the second time in recent years that the parish has had to deal with sexual misconduct charges against one of its priests. A priest who worked at the parish in the 1980's was accused in a 2003 lawsuit of fondling an altar boy in the priests' residence.
Despite this latest scandal, some parishioners say people should not rush to judgment before knowing all the details.
"I was very speechless about what happened. It's pretty sad but I think they should have gotten all their facts together before you start assuming things," said one parishioner.
The Brooklyn Diocese says it will cooperate fully with any investigation of Monsignor Dempsey.
Any possible victims of abuse were also urged to make a toll-free call at 1-888-634-4499.