WALNUTPORT, Pa. -- A Roman Catholic priest has been removed from ministry after allegedly taking pictures of boys' backsides at a high school wrestling tournament in Northampton County.
According to a release from the Diocese of Allentown, Monsignor Thomas A. Derzack, 70, pastor of St. Nicholas Parish in Walnutport, was removed from ministry and barred from diocesan school events and school property.
According to the diocese, Derzack was seen taking photos of wrestlers from behind without their knowledge as they were waiting to compete in a tournament Dec. 27 at Bethlehem Catholic High School.
The pictures were taken in a public area of the gym, according to the diocese.
Officials with the diocese said a spectator at the event became suspicious and notified a police officer providing security at the tournament. The officer spoke with Monsignor Derzack, who agreed to delete the photographs and left the event.
The diocese said it notified Pennsylvania ChildLine and the Northampton County District Attorney.
Bethlehem police handled the investigation.
Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio told 69 News Sunday afternoon that the photos taken by the priest were inappropriate, but he noted that his department determined the priest's behavior did not rise to the level of being a criminal matter.
DiLuzio said that information from his department has been passed along to the diocese.
"I don't blame the parent for being alarmed," DiLuzio said. "They did the right thing to alert the officer about the incident."
According to the diocese, an independent review board will look at the case to determine if Monsignor Derzack is suitable for ministry.
Parishioners of St. Nicholas were informed at this weekend’s masses. Bishop Alfred Schlert visited the parish to tell the congregation.