Father George Rutler accused of sexual assault, denies allegation

By Jonah McKeown for CNA

Fr. George Rutler. CNA file photo.

Denver Newsroom, Dec 1, 2020 / 04:00 am (CNA).- A well-known New York City priest is maintaining his innocence amid an investigation into an allegation that he sexually assaulted a female security guard earlier this month.

Father George Rutler, pastor of the Church of St. Michael in Manhattan, on Nov. 20 voluntarily stepped aside from his pastoral duties, while prosecutors are investigating the allegations, the Archdiocese of New York told CNA.

Ashley Gonzalez, a 22-year-old security guard with MG Security Services, went public Nov. 26 with an allegation that Rutler forcibly groped her, after she had allegedly seen the priest, late at night, watching homosexual pornography on an office computer in the church rectory.

Rutler is the author of over 30 books and is a well-known public speaker and television commentator. The archdiocese told News12 there have been no other allegations raised against Rutler in the past.

Gonzalez hired Manuel Gomez, a private detective and founder of Black Ops Private Investigators, to help her file a police report following the alleged incident.

Gomez told CNA that the alleged victim’s family was familiar with work he had done on a previous case, and that family members had recommended that Gonzalez contact him before contacting police.

The alleged incident happened around 1:20 am Nov. 4, Gomez said. He said Gonzalez contacted him at 2:45 am asking for help, and that he helped her to file a police report that morning.

The alleged incident took place during Gonzalez’s second night on the job, Gomez said.

According to Gonzalez, Rutler had offered that she could sit in his office when she was not actively doing her rounds. Gonzalez had finished her first set of rounds at around 1:15 am and was sitting in the office texting her mother when Rutler entered the office and greeted Gonzalez.

He then sat down at the computer and checked the ongoing General Election results, Gonzalez alleges, before beginning to watch a homosexual pornographic video. Gonzalez said she filmed Rutler with her cellphone as he did so.

In the video obtained by CNA, a bald-headed man— fully clothed and wearing a grey or black sweater or long sleeve shirt— can be seen from behind sitting at a desk in an office decorated with religious photographs and holy cards, watching a video depicting lewd homosexual acts on a desktop computer. CNA could not verify the identity of the man, whom Gonzales claims is Rutler.

Gonzalez alleges that as she tried to exit the office, Rutler stood and slammed the door shut, breaking one of her fingernails. She alleges that he then grabbed her chest before she escaped the office.

Gonzalez sent a text message to her mother telling her that she felt unsafe and claiming that she had “almost” been raped.

In a Nov. 20 letter to his parish, Rutler denied that he “improperly touched” Gonzalez, but said he has offered to “step aside at this moment from my duties” while authorities conduct their investigation.

He urged his parishioners to “ignore any misleading accounts should they appear in the media” and asked for prayers.

Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the New York archdiocese, told CNA that Rutler’s case is in the hands of the district attorney, and that Cardinal Dolan does not plan to open an archdiocesan investigation while the DA’s investigation is ongoing.

Zwilling reiterated that Rutler had “voluntarily stepped away from his duties as pastor.”  He said the archdiocese is “fully cooperating” with the district attorney’s office in its investigation.

The priest has apparently curtailed all public activity.

A spokesman for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office told CNA that the office does not confirm whether investigations exist, and declined to comment.

Gomez said he hopes Rutler will soon be brought into the DA’s office for questioning, and added that he has forwarded all the evidence he has collected on Rutler’s alleged misconduct, including the video allegedly taken by Gonzalez, to the archdiocese.

CNA attempted to contact Father Rutler at the Church of St. Michael to discuss the allegations, but did not receive a response.

A convert from Anglicanism, Rutler was appointed a Missionary of Mercy by Pope Francis in 2016.

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  1. This incident should be properly investigated. But we must remember that not every accused priest is guilty, as we have seen with the case of Cardinal Pell.

  2. I wonder if Father Rulter was framed, the PI Gomez doesn’t have a squeaky clean record, and miss Gonzalez taped outside the office door. Why shouldn’t they get some money from the archdiocese, seems money can be a great motivator for schemers. Sounds like a set up and seems fishy.

      • You cannot tell who is at the computer, so you cannot accuse unless you know the facts beyond a doubt. I listened to the young woman’s account, it just doesn’t sound like her story adds up. She says she was in the office taping, and the taping is outside of the office because the door is in her filming shot. I think it’s a set up.

      • Fr. Rutler exonerated May 2021. The judge dismissed the case. The video was obviously a con job. She’s the security guard. She easily brings in a bald guy after hours and they fake a video. It never shows the guy’s face, much less him coming at her. According to LifeSiteNews, the lady security guard has been implicated as working for NY gangs in similar cons. I know, con artists in NYC, who would imagine? Not the first con artists to make fake sex assault charges against our Church, it’s easy money these days.

    • I am a parishioner & I feel this was a set-up. Father Rutler is the holiest & most devout priest I have ever met. May Our Lord Jesus Christ, protect him from this satanic attack

    • A very well-known, respected cleric is unabashedly watching gay porn after inviting a female security guard to come in from the cold and then attempts to attack her though he was allegedly watching men engaged in sex acts. Doesn’t add up. They all smell money.

    • Just hold on. Don’t be so rash. This case doesn’t make any sense. He watched gay porno while she was in the office sitting behind him? What? How do you go from watching gay porn to then sexually attacking a woman? This is crazy. The woman sounds nuts.

      • The incident reminds me of Jussie Smollett. He watches the stuff knowing she is in the room? His proclivities go both ways? She texts her mother instead of just running away outside? She hires a PI to submit a police report rather than calling 911? It could be true, but those questions need good answers. If he’s guilty, then punish him. If she made it up, punish her.

      • I was thinking the exact same thing! He knows she is behind him and he is still going to begin watching homosexual porn?? This was the accuser’s second day on the job and he felt comfortable enough with her that he would let her see him, a celebrated priest, watcing porn? In addition, if Fr. Rutler is into men, why would he want to sexually assault a woman? It just doesn’t add up, in my humble opinion!

        • Even If the pc wasn’t wiped clean, it spoils be easy to subpoena the IP history, if he was habitually watching gay porn, should be Easy to prove, if there is only one instance, or none… then it spoils be easy to prove it is a false accusation.

    • “No smoke without fire?”

      Nobody innocent is ever falsely accused of something, because that false accusation is smoke so there must be a fire?

      Is this the method you use to get out of jury duty, and it has taken over your life?

  3. There are too many holes in this story. The claim is that this happened to her during her 2nd day on the job. Why is a petite 22-year-old girl hired as a security guard to guard grown men against potential violent rioters, when she herself is vulnerable (and if we go by her claim, she wasn’t able to protect even herself against a 75-year-old, so who was she possibly hired to protect)? Security guards, especially against rioters should be big and intimidating, (take a look at the security guards with bloodhounds that Saks Fifth Avenue hired), and perhaps undergo training to actually be able protect people against violent criminals as this specific job would have required. How long was this 22-year-old girl working as a security guard? Was she placed here merely for this job?

    Not to mention that this same company also describes itself as a “high profile” private investigation firm. Also, why did this 22 year old girl call the founder of a separate “Emmy Award-winning documentary maker” and private investigation firm at 2:45am just over an hour after she claims he supposedly grabbed her? I grew up in the Bronx. What 22 year old from the Bronx can afford to hire a top “counter-terrorism who worked on high-profile murder cases” as a private investigator? People are capable of making authentic looking crime reinnacments for TV and this firm won an Emmy award for a crime documentary. We know this girl and the security firm she worked for had access to the building. It is undeniable that it is possible for someone to stage this whole thing to create that 18-second video clip only showing the back of a bald man’s head. This could be just a slightly more sophisticated smear then what happened to the good Cardinal George Pell who was proven to be innocent after being imprisoned for almost a year. What we need is security camera evidence of who went in and out of the office and buidling. And don’t tell us that the cameras spontaneously shut off that night.

    Smells like someone who knows there are millions of dollars that can be made from an Archdiocesean abuse payout.

    • Well researched and thought through. Forget the money aspect and realise his views anger a particular vote group. I stand with Fr. Rutler

    • May 2021 update: Looks like you called it, probably. Our man, Father Rutler, exonerated. Case against him: thrown-out. God be praised. Hope he’s back at pulpit asap. Glad to see our Church not robbed or extorted by false accusations.

  4. “The alleged incident took place during Gonzalez’s second night on the job, Gomez said.”
    Her second night? There’s a lot about this story that doesn’t add up, but this detail in particular suggests a frame job.
    May justice prevail.

  5. The whole story sounds like that of a stereotypical movie plot to smear a good priest. Yes, there have been evil men who committed sexual abuse after being ordained to the priesthood. These ase are evil acts. For now I cannot at all believe that Fr. Rutler has done any such evil acts that he was accused of. The right to due process is in our Constitution. He is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. Anyone questioning Fr. Rutler’s innocence and taking the accusation of those living in a strictly secular society as fact should watch at least one video of Fr. Rutler speaking about any topic at all.

    Fr. Rutler is, figuratively, not on the same plane of this modern and superficial world. I cannot imagine that he would concern himself with, and engage in, such perverted and diabolical acts and matters. He is not a priest who goes around wearing a t-shirt and jeans and taking goofy selfies with people he meets on the street. By this I mean that he is not trying hard to relate to secular society in an effort to better live in it, because my impression is that he has other, higher matters to concern himself with in his dedication to the priesthood. He’s written over thirty books for our edification; hosted countless EWTN shows (that any skeptics really must first watch any video of one of his shows before blindly accepting the new spoon-fed secularist belief of “guilty until proven innocent” wherein all hell immediately breaks loose for anyone who is accused); he created the Shrine to Persecuted Christians, and he has converted hundreds if not thousands of souls via his preaching about the lives of the saints and the unchanging philosophical and moral truths. Visiting his parish multiple times, one easily gets the impression that he is too committed to saving the souls of Catholics including himself to be doing absurd things. Absurd things, such as this false accusation that he was looking at homosexual pornography (on consecrated property…), while in front of a security guard, then grabbing her inappropriately. There are, without a doubt, diabolic forces behind this.

    Sancte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio; contra nequítiam et insídias diáboli esto praesídium. Ímperet illi Deus, súpplices deprecámur, tuque, Princeps milítiae caeléstis, Sátanam aliósque spíritus malígnos, qui ad perditiónem animárum pervagántur in mundo, divína virtúte, in inférnum detrúde. Amen.

  6. I don’t know if the accusations are true or not, but several things don’t add up.
    1. Why would a priest who has so conscientiously crafted and maintained his conservative/traditional priestly persona for years watch porn, knowing that someone was sitting behind him with a clear view?

    2. IF he was watching gay porn, that’s an indication that he has a same sex orientation. Why then would he grab a female by her breasts?

    3. Why would the guard bother to FILM him watching porn, as is alleged? He wasn’t breaking a civil law. What was her intent?

    I do hope the allegations aren’t true. At this point, Fr. Rutler is innocent until proven otherwise.

  7. 1. All allegations must be taken seriously. 2. As frustrating and humiliating as investigations can be for all concerned, and as tempting as it is to remain engaged, Fr. Rutler is right to cooperate and to cease the public exercise of his ministry. 3. Ms. Gonzalez and Fr. Rutler will be grilled, hopefully with sensitivity and thoroughness applied in equal measure to both parties. 4. A thorough investigation of Ms Gonzalez’s phone and Fr. Rutler’s computer will clarify matters.

    Let’s pray for the truth to prevail and for a speedy resolution to this unsettling story.

  8. This thing stinks of setup, and that so many supposedly good Catholics respond immediately with a position of “neutrality” or an assumption that one of the great defenders of the faith for four decades might have committed such an act, shows how jaded and cowardly so many Catholics have become. One hopes, further, that Cardinal Dolan is not leaving this purely to the police, but is actively using his many resources to figure out who in his pastoral charge might be part of this outrage.

  9. About fifteen years ago I attended a Mass at the Church of Our Savior on Lexington Avenue where Father Ruttler was pastor at that time. After Mass I greeted him and
    commented” You need to be commended for not watering down the teachings of the Church.
    In his characteristic self-effacing manner and with down cast eyes he simply said “Thank you very much, I don’t want to go to hell for preaching false doctorine.”

  10. Has anyone else noticed that cheap latex bald cap the man in the chair is wearing? And since when did Father Rutler get arms that look like they could bench press 300 pounds?

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