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The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is investigating a complaint of child sex abuse against a one-time Mon-Yough area pastor and radio personality.
Bishop Dorsey McConnell announced this week that the accusation was made against Charles W. Appel Jr., who was vicar of the Church of the Good Samaritan in Liberty Borough in the 1970s and 1980s.
Appel died in 2019. He served four years in federal prison after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography.
The alleged abuse happened at the church-run Sheldon Calvary Camp in Conneaut, Ohio, in the 1970s and early 1980s when the victim was a child attending events there, McConnell said.
“As your bishop, I hope to gain a greater understanding of this matter in the coming months, and I plan to write to you again over the summer to provide you with an update,” McConnell said in a pastoral letter released on the diocesan website and sent to church members.
Under the name “Charlie Apple,” Appel also was a popular radio and nightclub disc jockey for more than 40 years, heard on stations in Monroeville, New Kensington and Scottdale, and in later years organized bus tours to rock and roll attractions for senior citizens throughout Western Pennsylvania.
His career came to an end after he was indicted in 2013 by a federal grand jury on charges that he had ordered child pornography from Canada on more than 29 separate occasions.
Appel was released from federal prison in 2018. He died less than a year later.
McConnell said Appel renounced his priesthood in 2001, after internal charges were brought against him under the church’s disciplinary system. The nature of those charges has not been disclosed.
McConnell urged anyone with information about this allegation, or any other allegations, to come forward.
“Acknowledging this part of our diocese’s history is painful,” he said. “However, as Christians, we must be committed to the safety and well-being of everyone, and to transparency about any misconduct or abuse.”
The contact persons at the diocese are the Rev. Catherine Munz and the Rev. Canon James Shoucair, McConnell said. They may be reached confidentally via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at (412) 721-0853, ext. 257, he said.
All staff and volunteers in the diocese who work with children are required to undergo mandatory safety training every three years, and are subject to mandatory background checks, McConnell said. In addition, he said, any allegations of child abuse today would be immediately reported to the police.
McConnell asked for prayers “for everyone affected by this situation, for the Appel family, and especially for the faithful people of Sheldon Calvary Camp, past and present.”
Originally published March 16, 2021.