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Watch: High-Profile Anti-LGBTQ NYC Priest Accused of Sexual Assault, Gay Porn Viewing

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday December 4, 2020

Father George Rutler
Father George Rutler  (Source:Screencap / YouTube)

A 22-year-old security guard says she was sexually assaulted by a high-profile Manhattan priest who has espoused anti-LGBTQ views - and she says the assault occurred after he viewed gay porn, News 12 reports.

Ashely Gonzalez was new to her job as a security guard on overnight on overnight duty at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Manhattan when Father George William Rutler, 75, allegedly assaulted her on Nov. 4.

Gonzalez told the media that Rutler viewed a video of sexual acts between two men on a computer in his office, and that he did so knowing she was in the same room. "He looked at me with a smile, looked away, and he put his hand inside his pants, and he was playing with himself," she told News 12.

According to Gonzalez, she was in the office at the priest's invitation.

Gonzalez responded to Rutler's alleged actions by using her cell phone to take video of him. News 12 obtained that video and aired it, blurring out sexually explicit sections of the image.

When Gonzalez tried to leave the room, she said, the priest slammed the door closed and then, she said, "He aggressively threw himself on me and grabbed me sexually, aggressively, and I was fighting him off of me."

In addition to the video, Gonzalez showed the news station the text messages she sent her mother, pleading for help.

The Daily Beast described the 18 seconds of video Gonzalez recorded, saying that "a bald man can be seen sitting under several religious icons watching porn on a computer with his hands down his pants."

The church says that Rutler has "voluntarily stepped aside from the parish, and is not currently serving as a priest," while Rutler, who remains at large, says the story is not true.

"I strongly deny this allegation, which I maintain is incoherent and painful to my reputation and inconsistent with how I have conducted myself in 50 years of ministerial service without any accusation of misbehavior," Rutler declared in a Nov. 20 letter to members of the church's congregation.

The priest is the "author of more than 30 books," and "appears on the internationally televised Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), a Catholic media conglomerate that includes radio, internet, print, publishing, and other news outlets," reports UKL newspaper the Daily Mail.

Rutler is known for attacks on what he has termed 'abortionists and sodomites," the Daily Mail noted. Indeed, his anti-LGTBQ writings and commentary stretches back at least three decades; in a 1990 interview, he compared liberals to "totalitarians" and slammed LGBTQs, saying, "It is fantasy if you think that authentic sexual life can be divorced from the procreation of life and a lifelong consecration of love."

He went on to add: "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."

Rutler has not stepped away from his controversial writings, and continues to submit work to anti-LGTBQ conservative Catholic publication Church Militant, noted The Daily Beast. " 'Christ does not call us to cope with the culture, but to transform it,' Rutler wrote in his pastor's column printed in Church Militant on Nov. 29," the Daily Beast noted.

In addition to condemning "abortionists and the sodomites," Rutler has "criticized Pope Francis, and once hosted former Trump adviser Steve Bannon at the inauguration of a shrine for persecuted Christians," the Daily Beast recalled.

Gonzalez described her feelings to News 12, saying, "I was raised to respect [priests] and look up to them, and now I'm disgusted."

The Manhattan DA is investigating Gonzalez's claims, media sources said.

Watch the News 12 news clip by clicking this link.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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