Pastor Placed on Leave After Allegations of Misconduct with Teen Girls, 1979-1984

March 21, 2002

Monsignor Russell Dillard, pastor of St. Augustine parish in Washington, DC since 1990, has been placed on administrative leave from his ministerial responsibilities after allegations he had engaged in sexual misconduct with two minor girls from 1979 to 1984 when they were in grades 8-12.

The information came to light a week ago when the women contacted the Archdiocese. They were parishioners in the District of Columbia when the alleged relationships occurred. Msgr. Dillard has acknowledged relationships did occur.

Following its stringent child abuse policy, the Archdiocese reported the allegations to the Metropolitan Police Department’s Youth and Preventative Services Division and removed Msgr. Dillard from ministry. He has been on administrative leave since Monday evening, March 18. He had asked to inform parishioners at Mass on Sunday, but, with his consent, the announcement is being made public today. Consistent with Archdiocesan policy, Msgr. Dillard will undergo evaluation at a residential facility effective today.

“This has been an extraordinarily difficult week,” said Cardinal McCarrick. “I can think of almost nothing more painful than to learn a priest may have violated the trust placed in him in this way. Our children must be our priority. My heart and my prayers go out to the people who have come forward. I pray that they may find healing. I pray also for Msgr. Dillard. I know how hard this must be for him.”

“I sympathize with the parishioners at St. Augustine’s and at the other parishes where Monsignor has served throughout the 24 years of his priesthood, and for the people and the priests who strive every day to be a constant and faithful witness to Christ,” he continued.

“Finally, I assure all of the faithful in the Archdiocese of Washington that swift action always will be taken whenever a credible allegation is made. Since 1985, the Archdiocese has had a clear and stringent child abuse policy. This policy was updated in 1993 to require mandatory civil reporting and again in 1999. It applies to all clergy, religious and lay employees and volunteers in service to the Archdiocese and is among the most comprehensive in the nation,” Cardinal McCarrick said.

The Archdiocesan child abuse policy is available online at, under Communications.

Msgr. Dillard, a native of Washington, DC, was born in 1948. After being ordained a priest in 1978, he was assigned as associate pastor at St. Anthony’s in Northeast Washington. In 1987, he was appointed pastor of St. Martin of Tours in Northwest Washington and, in 1990, pastor of St. Augustine’s.

Susan Gibbs
Office of Communications
[email protected]