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Lexington priest under investigation for sexual abuse

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LEXINGTON, N.C. -- Father Albert Gondek, a priest at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church, is on administrative leave after allegations of sexually abusing minors on church property, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte.

The church says Gondek is being investigated after a 23-year-old man recently claimed that the priest touched him in a sexually inappropriate way when he was 18.

David Hains, director of communications for the Charlotte diocese, says the man also claimed that this happened with minors who haven’t come forward.

Hains says the church is removing Gondek as pastor until the investigation is over.

“We’re hoping this can be thoroughly and fairly invested and we can get some clarity in the next couple of weeks,” Hains said.

Gondek is now banned from leading services and publicly celebrating mass.

He is also living in a community among other priests outside North Carolina.

“Nothing’s been proven, but we do need to take precautions,” Hains said.

The church says Gondek was also investigated in 2007 on a claim about inappropriate behavior during a swimming event.

He was placed on leave for about two months but was later cleared of the allegations.

“Our commitment to protect children and create safe environments impels us to have Father Gondek step back from his ministry until a thorough investigation is conducted,” said Father James Greenfield.

“We make no judgment on either the accuser or Father Gondek,” Greenfield said. “We await the results of the investigation and remain committed to guaranteeing the safety of children and advancing the truth.”