A former Purcellville, Virginia, priest was convicted Monday of sexual abuse in a case that dated back to 1985.
Scott Asalone, 65, a former priest at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, faces a sentence of up to 10 years, the office of Virginia Attorney General Miyares said in a statement. Sentencing is scheduled for April.
Asalone had entered an Alford plea to felony carnal knowledge of a minor between 13 and 15 years of age, Miyares’ office said. An Alford plea means that the defendant doesn’t admit guilt but agrees that the prosecutors have enough evidence that he would likely be convicted.
Asalone was arrested in March 2020 and has been on bond. He was living Asbury Park, New Jersey, at the time. He was removed from public duties in 1993 and dismissed from the Order of Capuchin Friars in 2007.
Monday the Catholic Diocese of Arlington said that his removal immediately followed a reported sexual assault in 1993, according to a press release. Asalone was added to the diocese’s list of priests who have credible sexual assault allegations.
“I am grateful to the attorney general for prosecuting this case and am gratified that some measure of justice has been rendered,” Bishop Michael F. Burbidge said. “Our Diocese has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse of a minor and no priest with a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is serving in our Diocese.”
The diocese encouraged other victims to reach out to officers and contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator for the diocese at 703-841-2530 to report any issues.
‘It really is good to talk about it’
His victim was former D.C. Council member David Grosso, who told The Washington Post in 2020 that the investigation played a major role in his decision not to seek reelection.
Grosso told WTOP that the verdict was the result of a plea deal that was reached just before jury selection was about to begin Monday.
He said he was relieved that a trial was avoided. “I was the number one witness,” Grosso said, “and I was preparing to be really cross-examined pretty extensively by the defense attorney.”
Grosso said Monday was the first time he’s seen Asalone since 1987, and going into and out of the courthouse was the hardest part.
“It was one of those weird situations where you kind of enter a position in life where you just never wanted to find yourself again. And I didn’t mind as much in the courtroom, but it was just running into him while we were leaving and while we were going in — I guess that’s just what America is all about, right? But it’s still it was hard. It was definitely hard.”
Grosso added that he had been keeping tabs on Asalone over the internet for years, “and a couple of times I noticed he was saying he was working with youth groups in New Jersey, and I contacted those myself and said, ‘You guys need to be very careful. This guy is incredibly dangerous around youth.’ And I don’t know whether or not they listened to me or not.”
Grosso said he first told family and close friends about the abuse when he came out at age 22, and that he wished he had gone to the police immediately “and gotten it all over with then, because it’s kind of just dragged on for a long time. And then this case alone was four years.”
While it’s been hard to talk about it repeatedly, Grosso said, “It really is good to talk about it. And it’s good to get out in front of it if you can.”
“Every victim deserves to be heard,” Miyares said in the statement. “My office is dedicated to investigating and prosecuting those who prey on children to the fullest extent of the law. Virginia has no tolerance for child molesters. I encourage anyone who has been a victim of clergy abuse to contact the Virginia State Police, as it’s never too late to fight for justice.”
“I just think more of us need to realize that there is an opportunity for justice out there,” Grosso said. “And if you don’t say something, nobody knows.”
WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this report.