A Catholic pastor in American Fork was placed on administrative leave amid allegations of sexual misconduct from nearly four decades ago.

The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City placed Father David R. Gaeta on leave Friday, according to a statement from the diocese.

He is suspended from all ministry activities pending the outcome of the investigation, said Jean Hill, government liaison for the diocese.

The reported incidents occurred between 1980 to 1984 while Gaeta was serving as an associate pastor in Ogden, Hill said.

The alleged sexual misconduct involved a number of young boys, though Hill declined to say how many individuals were involved or the nature of the misconduct.

She did not know why the individuals decided to come forward now.

Gaeta has denied the allegations, Hill said.

The diocese contacted law enforcement officials as well as the Department of Child and Family Services, although the reporting individuals are now adults.

An internal investigation is also being conducted by the diocese’s Office of Safe Environment.

“Please continue to pray for all those impacted by this matter,” the statement from the diocese read.

A statement announcing the decision was read from the pulpit at the St. Peter Parish in American Fork on Sunday.

All future services at the American Fork parish will be conducted by Father James Blaine, a retired priest who served at the parish prior to Gaeta’s appointment.

The diocese also sent the announcement to all parishes where Gaeta served, including parishes in Ogden, Huntsville, Hyde Park, Salt Lake City, Moab, Hill Air Force Base, the Archdiocese of Boston, the Diocese of Worcester and the Archdiocese of the Military Services.

Gaeta was ordained a priest in November 1980 at his home diocese in Revere, Massachusetts, according to an article by Intermountain Catholic, a Utah Catholic newspaper.

His first assignment was in Ogden as an associate pastor at St. Joseph Parish.

In 1982, Gaeta was appointed to St. Ambrose Parish in Salt Lake City. During that time, he also served as a temporary chaplain at Hill Air Force Base.

The following year he served as a temporary associate pastor at St. Pius X Parish in Moab and at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Holladay.

Gaeta traveled to Boston in 1985 and served as a chaplain for various U.S. Air Force bases for more than a decade. After retiring from the Air Force in 1999, he also served for two years as a chaplain at two hospitals in the Diocese of Worcester in Massachusetts.

From 2002-2014, Gaeta helped at several Boston parishes and hospitals in the New England area, the article stated.

He returned to the Salt Lake City diocese in 2017 where he served as an administrator of St. Florence Mission.

In August, Gaeta was assigned as pastor for the St. Peter Parish in American Fork.

The diocese asked those with information or concerns about the case to call Sandy Growe, victims assistance coordinator with the Salt Lake City diocese, at (801) 328-8641.

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