A Catholic priest with a long history of opposing gay people has been accused of assaulting a female security guard after she allegedly caught him watching a gay adult film.
Fr. George Rutler, of the Church of Saint Michael the Archangel in New York City, has previously decried “sodomites” and “homosexualists” and claimed that gay people are “[invading] the House of God and [attacking] the Body of Christ.”
But 22-year-old security guard Ashley Gonzalez claims that last month Rutler entered a room where she was working and started watching a video of two men engaging in oral sex, according to the National Catholic Reporter.
Gonzalez, hired to aid the church’s security during November’s elections, said she recorded Rutler watching the video on her cellphone.
NCR reports the video as showing “the back of a man sitting underneath a cluster of religious icons and portraits watching a computer screen depicting a man performing oral sex on another man. The man seen watching the screen is seemingly bald, as is Rutler, although his identity could not be confirmed.”
Speaking to News12, Gonzalez claimed that, after she filmed Rutler and tried to leave, the 75-year-old shut the door and then proceeded to try and assault her.
“It was like a monster,” Gonzalez said, adding, “He looked at me with a smile, looked away, and he put his hand inside his pants, and he was playing with himself.”
Gonzalez said Rutler “aggressively threw himself on me and grabbed me sexually, aggressively, and I was fighting him off of me.”
She also reportedly sent a series of texts to her mother asking for help during the alleged attack.
Gonzalez has filed a police report, and while the NYPD refused to comment on specifics, it said it “takes sexual assault and rape cases extremely seriously.”
Rutler refuted Gonzalez’s claims in a letter to parishioners on Nov. 20, writing, “I strongly deny this allegation, which I maintain is incoherent and painful to my reputation and inconsistent with how I have conducted myself in fifty years of ministerial service without any accusation of misbehavior.”
However, the Archdiocese of New York said in a statement that it was fully cooperating with the Manhattan district attorney and added that “although Father Rutler has denied acting inappropriately with the security guard, he has voluntarily stepped aside from the parish, and is not currently serving as a priest.”
Rutler is renowned conservative figure in the United States and also a longtime critic of LGBTQ people.
He previously railed against women being allowed into the priesthood, justifying his opposition by reinforcing the gender binary and saying any contradiction of that is “a homosexual vision of culture.”
He also decried an “alliance of radical abortionists and homosexualists” in New York City and, during the height of the AIDS epidemic in 1990, said that “homosexualists are infecting each other lethally…in a commitment to death and to self-destruction.”
Rutler also claimed that the only “safe sex is real sex,” which in his view is sex that is for “the procreation of life and the sanctification of love.”
“If people want to engage in aberrant sexual activities, well, by all means then they are free to do so,” he said. “They are free to pay the penalty.”
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