The Catholic Diocese of Richmond has suspended Father Joseph H. Metzger III, a former pastor of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Norfolk, after the latest complaints against him involved minors.
Diocesan Bishop Barry C. Knestout suspended Metzger’s “priestly faculties” effective July 12 which includes prohibiting “any interaction with minors or youth.”
Knestout did not elaborate.
According to a news release, Metzger has been on temporary leave from the church since December 2018 “due to previous violations of the Diocesan Code of Conduct with Minors.”
From December 2018: Norfolk priest on leave, accused of violating code of conduct
On July 1, Metzger started working in the Richmond area to include “diocesan elderly housing facilities and communities of women.”
While officials said the allegations against Metzger “does not involve an accusation of sexual abuse,” they claimed to have filed a complaint July 5 to law enforcement “in accordance with diocesan policy and practice.”
Our news partners Southside Daily checked with area law enforcement to see where the “complaint” was filed.
Public information officers at the Richmond, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach Police departments said they have no records pertaining to Metzger.
Sgt. Michelle Anaya, the spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police, said, “We do not have any open activities involving this individual.”
Christina Pullen, the spokeswoman for the FBI in Norfolk, said, “I don’t have any insight into this.”
Deborah Cox, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Richmond, declined to identify the agency church officials supposedly filed the complaint with, saying only that the diocese has “reported it to the appropriate authorities for investigation.”
“We will not give further details about who or the investigative process,” she said.
Metzger has been “unassigned” since his suspension and is not allowed to “present himself publicly as a priest, wear clerical attire, administer the sacraments or celebrate Mass publicly,” officials said.
The diocese maintains an updated list of clergy who have served there and have also had a proven allegation of sexual abuse involving a minor made against them.