A Catholic priest in New York City has been accused of sexual assault on a female security guard.
Ashley Gonzalez, 22—who worked as an overnight security guard at Church of St. Michael the Archangel on West 34th Street in Manhattan—said Reverend George Rutler, 75, assaulted her after she walked in on him watching gay pornography.
According to News 12, the alleged assault occurred on November 4, which was Gonzalez’s second day on the job.
Ashley Gonzalez, a 22-year-old who worked as an overnight security guard at St. Michael the Archangel Church on West 34th Street in Manhattan, is calling for the arrest of 75-year-old Father George William Rutler. https://t.co/gsXLzJ5dmt
— News12BK (@News12BK) November 26, 2020
Gonzalez saw the nationally prominent priest in the church rectory watching an adult film on an office computer featuring two men performing oral sex on each other.
She took out her cellphone and started filming.
News 12 obtained the 18-second video Gonzalez recorded, which showed a bald man—presumed to be Rutler:
“seen sitting under several religious icons watching porn on a computer with his hands down his pants.”
She later recalled with the news outlet:
“He looked at me with a smile, looked away, and he put his hand inside his pants, and he was playing with himself.”
When Gonzalez tried to leave, she said Rutler slammed the door shut.
“He aggressively threw himself on me and grabbed me sexually, aggressively, and I was fighting him off of me.”
“That was the scariest part too. I had no one to help.”
She managed to escape after the priest allegedly groped her breast.
Good Lord, preserve us.
— Mary Margaret Cannon 🇺🇸🗽 (@MMCannon2010) December 5, 2020
News of the accusation was of particular interest given the pastor’s stance against LGBTQ rights.
Soooooo frustrating. Rome: police your priests and hierarchy! Action needed now. @Pontifex
— Ann DeHaven (@AnnDeHaven) December 1, 2020
Gonzalez immediately enlisted the help of Black Ops Private Investigators to file a police report for forcible touching.
They are now calling for Father Rutler’s arrest.
Black Ops Private Investigator Manuel Gomez said of Rutler:
“Why is he still here? He should not be here. He is a threat to the parishioners.”
Joseph Zwilling, the Archdiocese of New York, issued a statement, saying:
“Although Father Rutler has denied acting inappropriately with the security guard, he voluntarily stepped aside from the parish, and is currently not serving as a priest.”
On November 20, Rutler penned a letter to his parishioners refuting Gonzalez’s claims.
“I strongly deny this allegation, which I maintain is incoherent and painful to my reputation and inconsistent with how I have conducted myself in 50 years of ministerial service without any accusation of misbehavior.”
In the letter, he stated no charges have been brought against him.
Rutler also urged his congregants to “ignore any misleading accounts should they appear in the media.”
Fr. Rutler’s denial unintentionally reveals a very disturbed man. The denial is abusive and manipulative. Ms. Gonzalez is the victim & the Church needs to pray, love and protect her. Failing to do that re-victimizes her and others who have been abused in the Church. Pray for her.
— Dave MacD (@davidgmac9) November 27, 2020
Gonzalez told the news outlet she lost faith in the church following the incident.
“I was raised to respect them and look up to them, and now I’m disgusted.”
It is devastating to read that she doesn’t feel comfortable to go back to church. What a horrible scene.
— Elizabeth OConnell (@EIEIOConnell) December 5, 2020
After the allegations came to light, Gonzalez said the company offered to reassign her.
Danny Frost—a spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office—confirmed an investigation was underway and encouraged anyone with relevant information to contact their office.