This pro-Trump ex-priest is facing 'sexual misconduct' allegations from '4 different women': report
Much of former President Donald Trump's religious support has come from far-right white evangelical Protestants, but Trump has had some major Catholic allies as well — including two of the three U.S. Supreme Court justices he appointed: Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. The third, Justice Neil Gorsuch, was raised Catholic but has more recently attended an Episcopal church.
In 2020, one of Trump’s most vocal Catholic supporters was Frank Pavone, the ex-priest and anti-abortion activist who heads Priests for Life and formerly chaired Catholics for Trump. Support for Trump is by no means universal among Catholics; President Joe Biden and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), for example, are practicing Catholics as well as scathing Trump critics. And Pavone has been quick to attack Catholics who aren’t on board with the right-wing religious agenda.
When the late Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) chose then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, Pavone remarked that Palin was a better Catholic than Democrat Barack Obama's running mate Biden. Pavone mean that as a figure of speech and wasn’t saying that Palin was literally Catholic; Palin is an evangelical Protestant.
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But Pavone, for all his strident moralizing, now finds himself facing allegations of "sexual misconduct" by "at least four different women," according to the Daily Beast.
In an article published by the Beast on February 26, journalist Decca Muldowney reports, "The women, some of whom gave their accounts anonymously, accuse Pavone of inappropriate behavior in the workplace, ranging from unwanted sexual advances, non-consensual touching, grooming and lewd suggestions. The allegations span a period of almost 20 years, from the late 1990s until 2018."
Pavone is flatly denying their allegations. But according to Muldowney, two members of Priests for Life are calling for Pavone to resign: Father Stephen Imbarrato and Andrew Smith.
Imbarrato told the Beast, "I only had direct knowledge of one victim, the woman I counseled over a long period of time. That there were other victims over the years were, to me, suspicions that I could not verify. But I do believe these women who came forward, and they are now proof of those suspicions."
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Smith believes that more members of Priests for Life, in light of the women's sexual misconduct allegations, should be publicly calling Pavone out. In a statement published by Church Militant, Smith commented, "I have been very surprised to see the reaction from Priests for Life has been solely one of victimization and self-aggrandizement. I frankly expected better. I have seen no public expression of sorrow or regret at these events, in interview after interview, all that has been claimed is victimhood."
One of Pavone’s accusers told The Pillar, "He would stroke my hair while I sat at my desk. He would just come up behind me and put his arms around me, and read what I was writing, or say he wanted to fix what I was working on, and just kind of pick up my hair and drop it down, or touch my back.… And I would instantly go into freeze, as soon as I felt trapped in my cubicle, because I already had trauma in my background."
In an article published by The Pillar on February 8, another Pavone accuser, Mary Worthington — who worked with him at Priests for Life — is quoted as saying, "(Pavone) started on the flirty-flirty touching, paying way too much attention to me, touching my hair, or stroking my back. He would just walk up to me in the office, and keep his hand on my arm, stroke my hair at my desk, or put his hand on the small of my back, where it was also halfway on my bottom."
Muldowney notes that Pavone's right-wing political activism has "long put him at odds with the Catholic Church."
"When Donald Trump set up his reelection campaign in 2020," Muldowney observes, "Pavone was promoted to co-chair of the Pro-Life Voices for the Trump Campaign and a member of the Catholics for Trump advisory board. That July, however, Pavone was forced to resign from his roles in the Trump campaign at the direction of (Catholic) Church authorities."
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Read the Daily Beast’s full report here(subscription required).
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