The priest, the Rev. George William Rutler, 75, is accused of watching pornography and masturbating in front of the guard, Ashley Gonzalez, 22, without her consent in his office at the Church of St. Michael the Archangel.

A nationally prominent Catholic priest is under criminal investigation after a security guard assigned to his church accused him of sexually assaulting her on Election Day, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said on Friday, 5th December 2020.

He then attacked her physically and sexually when she tried to flee from the room, Ms Gonzalez told the police.

Father Rutler, one of the most influential parish priests in the United States, is a well-known figure in the world of Catholic conservatism and has been outspoken in his criticism of liberalism and the pontificate of Pope Francis.

He is the author of dozens of books and has hosted a show on Eternal Word Television Network, a Catholic channel available in 140 countries, since 1988. He also gained attention after ministering to firefighters at ground zero on the morning of the Sept. 11 attacks.

In a letter to his parish after the accusations surfaced, Father Rutler denied Ms Gonzalez’s claim that he “improperly touched her.” But he did not respond to her allegation that he had watched pornography and masturbated in front of her.

Part of the alleged encounter was recorded by Ms Gonzalez on her cellphone. She provided the video clip, which shows a man who fits Father Rutler’s physical description, to law enforcement officials and to the press.

Ms Gonzalez said she then went to the nearby police precinct to file a report.

She said she had not been contacted by the police or the archdiocese in recent weeks, although she did speak to prosecutors last month. Earl S. Ward, her lawyer, said that prosecutors had the video of the priest that Ms Gonzalez filmed.

Ms Gonzalez said she has not been able to return to work at M.G. Security, the firm hired by the church last month, since that night at St. Michael’s. She said the incident had sent her into a depressive spiral.

“It affected me in a way where I never want to go to church again,” she said.

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