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News Of Deacon's Dismissal Spreads Through Croton

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- Word of the dismissal of Deacon Al Mazza from Church of the Holy Name of Mary has been spreading throughout Croton since Mazza's dismissal was announced on Sunday via a letter from Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

Mazza was dismissed as a result of allegations of sexual abuse of minors recently surfacing. Mazza had been a deacon since 1996.

Dolan said the archdiocese received allegations from the Westchester district attorney's office about an investigation into Mazza.

"The allegations had been carefully investigated by the Croton-on-Hudson police department and the district attorney which concluded that, though the allegations were credible, state law precludes a criminal charge," Dolan said.

Mazza was placed on administrative leave over the summer while the archdiocese investigated. Late last week, the archdiocese decided to permanently remove him.

"The archdiocese acts promptly, definitively, firmly, and openly whenever a horrific instance of the abuse of a minor is brought to our attention," Dolan said. "As you know, the Church learned a painful lesson in not communicating the abuse of minors to the faithful as soon as it became aware of it. Now, the Church leads the way with action and transparency, with this sad situation here at this parish serving as an example."

In Croton, most residents declined comment about the situation or said they are unaware of the allegations. A woman who answered the door at Church of the Holy Name of Mary also declined comment.

At Hudson River Deli, David Bernstein, a Croton resident since 1972, said he would reserve judgment on Mazza.

"Everybody is innocent until proven guilty," Bernstein, a former homicide prosecutor said. "I'm not going to believe it until I see hard evidence. Rumors and allegations don't mean a thing."

Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the Westchester District Attorney's office, confirmed that incidents that occurred years ago were investigated, but the statute of limitations had passed.

"We couldn't move forward," Chalfen said.

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