Priest accused of abuse has died

Arizona Daily Star/September 9, 2008

The Rev. Timothy J. Szott, a Catholic priest living in Tucson who was recently accused of molesting a boy in 1999, has died of leukemia.

Szott died last month during a medical leave he'd taken from the local non-profit Habitat for Humanity, confirmed Michael McDonald, the agency's executive director.

Szott was a registered sex offender in Michigan related to a conviction for possessing child pornography in 2003. He pleaded no contest in that case.

He always denied any involvement in the recent accusation in a civil suit that he'd molested a boy in 1999.

There were never any criminal charges filed in relation to the allegations in the civil suit.

Szott had been faith community relations manager with Habitat for Humanity and the agency was prepared to take him back as an employee, though in a different job, McDonald said last week.

The 60-year-old priest had been working with the agency for a total of slightly more than two years. He began as a volunteer and then moved into a job as assistant retail manager for the Habitat for Humanity store.

McDonald said Szott had always been honest about his past.

The Archdiocese of Detroit says that Szott, who was ordained in 1973, was permanently removed from ministry in 2005.

McDonald said Szott was always been candid about having an addiction to Internet pornography, but always maintained it never had anything to do with children.

McDonald told the Star in April that Habitat for Humanity's core values include a belief that everyone deserves an opportunity to create a new life for themselves out of the ashes of their old life and old identity. He sees it happen with many of the homeowners who are recipients of Habitat for Humanity homes, he said.

Habitat for Humanity creates homeownership opportunities for low-income families.

The Detroit News reported in April that the $25,000 civil action, filed in Michigan's Wayne County, accused Szott of molesting a former altar boy who recently turned 18. The Detroit News says the young man claims Szott molested him during a family vacation in 1999.

At the time, Szott was pastor of St. Lawrence Parish in Utica, Mich.

McDonald said Szott's funeral was at Our Mother of Sorrows Catholic Church and that several local clergy members attended to pay their respects.

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