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Former Catholic priest convicted in 1985 sex assault in Loudoun

Scott A. Asalone, a rector in Purcellville, was removed from his church in 1993, but not arrested until 2020. The victim went on to become a D.C. councilman.

A former Catholic priest from Loudoun County, who was quietly discharged from his parish after abuse allegations in the 1990s, was convicted Monday in Loudoun circuit court of felony carnal knowledge of a minor for abusing a boy who would go on to become a D.C. councilman.

Scott A. Asalone, 66, who worked as a stockbroker and consultant in New Jersey for nearly three decades after leaving his parish, was arrested in March 2020, and released on bond during the pandemic. Jury selection for his trial was scheduled to begin Monday when Asalone decided to enter an “Alford” plea, in which a defendant doesn’t admit guilt but admits the prosecution has enough evidence to convict. Loudoun Circuit Court Judge James E. Plowman then found Asalone guilty, and set sentencing for April 13. He faces a minimum of two years in prison and a maximum of ten.

Asalone’s victim in the case, former D.C. councilman David Grosso, was present in the courtroom and preparing to testify. After Asalone’s arrest in 2020, Grosso publicly acknowledged that, “The minor he assaulted was me.” Grosso was 14, and Asalone was 29, when the abuse occurred between April and September 1985.

D.C. Council member David Grosso alleges he was sexually assaulted by Va. clergyman

“It felt good for me to be there,” Grosso said Monday, “to see the judge walk him through the charge, and find that he really is guilty of assaulting me … He realized the case was too strong against him.”

Asalone’s lawyer, Barry Coburn, declined to comment after the hearing. Coburn also represents former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in a number of pending federal and state sex abuse cases.

Asalone was the rector of St. Frances de Sales Catholic Church in Purcellville from June 1984 to January 1993. Grosso reported the incident to the Catholic church in the 1990s and received a financial settlement at the time. Asalone was a member of the Capuchin Friars order who was removed from public ministry in 1993 and dismissed from the Friars in 2007, according to records released by the Catholic Diocese of Arlington. Asalone then went on to work for Merrill Lynch, formed his own consulting firm, and most recently owned a bookstore in Asbury Park, according to biographies he posted online.

Virginia has no statute of limitations on most criminal acts, enabling the prosecution of Asalone 35 years later, but it does have a two-year legal window for filing civil suits. The statute of limitations is three years in D.C., so then-Councilmember Grosso helped pass the Statute of Limitations Amendment Act in 2018, which opened a two-year window for victims in the District to file civil claims which were previously barred.

Grosso said in 2020 he decided to identify himself as the victim in Asalone’s case because “we all must find the courage to come forward, tell our stories, and seek justice and accountability from the perpetrator, as well as the church and other institutions that have hidden or excused their behavior.” Grosso stepped down from the city council last year.

The Pennsylvania report on clergy sex abuse spawned a wave of probes nationwide. Now what?

After the Pennsylvania attorney general in 2018 uncovered hundreds of unprosecuted Catholic child sex abuse cases, attorneys general around the country launched efforts to root out similar cases in their state. Asalone was the first person in the Virginia Attorney General’s Office investigation to be indicted.