American Fork priest on leave following allegations of sexual abuse involving minors

AMERICAN FORK, Utah -- Allegations against David R. Gaeta for sexual misconduct with a minor were announced in a statement read in Catholic churches across Utah Sunday morning. 

Father Gaeta has been serving at Saint Peter’s Catholic Church in American Fork until he was sent on administrative leave on Friday, while an investigation is conducted. 

“We don’t want to convict anyone until they’ve been proven guilty,” said Jean Hill, the Government Liaison for Salt Lake City’s Catholic Dioceses. “But, we also want to make sure that we are addressing the issues and that if there are other allegations—against this particular priest or any priest—we’d want those to come forward so we can look into whatever might have happened.”  

Ordained in 1980, Gaeta has served in different parishes, including his service as a military chaplain in Boston. 

Hill said St. Peter's Catholic Church was Gaeta's first full time pastoral assignment, but these were not the first time allegations were brought up against him. 

“Apparently, there were a couple allegations in the 80’s with Father Gaeta,” Hill said. “Not with minors and not rising to the level of sexual misconduct, but those are all being factored into this as well.”

All of the allegations, said Hill, have been denied by Father Gaeta. 

Hill said the news has been shocking, especially with the sex abuse scandal reported last week.

“We Catholics across the nation are kind of hurting,” Hill said. “It’s been really horrifying to have what’s coming out and even an allegation within our diocese is really disheartening.”

Hill said the diocese is providing a victim advocate for those who have more information about the allegations against Father Gaeta, as well as for anyone who might have allegations against others not involved with this case.  To contact the advocate, call  Sandy Growe at 801-328-8641. 

“If there are other allegations out there, then to let people know that this has been received and that we are looking into it,” Hill said. “Please come forward if you have something to share.” 

In American Fork at St. Peter's Catholic Church (Gaeta's most recent parish) before mass was held, congregants were read a statement about the allegations against him:

"We regret to inform you that the Diocese of Salt Lake City received allegations of sexual misconduct against Father David R. Gaeta which involved minors. Father Gaeta is the Pastor here at Saint Peter Catholic Church in American Fork, Utah. He was ordained for the Diocese of Salt Lake City in 1980. He has been placed on administrative leave effective Friday, August 24, 2018, pending the outcome of the investigation by the Diocese. This matter has been reported to law enforcement, and we will cooperate with law enforcement in its investigation. If you have any information or concerns, please call Sandy Growe, Victims Assistance Coordinator, at 801-328-8641. Please continue to pray for all those impacted by this matter."

A similar statement was also sent to other parishes where Gaeta served:

We regret to inform you that the Diocese of Salt Lake City received allegations of sexual misconduct against Father David R. Gaeta which involved minors. Father Gaeta is the Pastor at Saint Peter Catholic Church in American Fork, Utah. He was ordained for the Diocese of Salt Lake City in 1980. He has been placed on administrative leave effective Friday, August 24, 2018, pending the outcome of the investigation by the Diocese. This matter has been reported to law enforcement, and we will cooperate with law enforcement in its investigation. If you have any information or concerns, please call Sandy Growe, Victims Assistance Coordinator, at 801-328-8641. Please continue to pray for all those impacted by this matter.