The Rev. Jack Arlotta has taken a leave of absence as pastor of the Church of St. Stephen after he said he had been “a victim of blackmail by an adult individual who has threatened to make public some improper conversations that we engaged in.”
In a letter to parishioners dated Jan. 13, Arlotta continued:
“While I have never met this person, the nature of our conversations became wholly inappropriate. While it is now clear to me that I was being ‘set-up,’ it was still wrong to engage in the type of discussions we had.”
Arlotta also wrote in the letter that he had reported the attempted blackmail to the police. “And I will cooperate in any way that I can in their investigation. Be assured, however, that no parish funds were involved in any way in these blackmail efforts.”
Which police department is investigating the blackmail attempt is unknown.
In a telephone interview Monday, Jan. 23, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York said he assumed that either the Warwick Town Police or the New York State Police would be handling any investigation.
”News to me,” Warwick Police Chief John Rader said in a telephone interview Monday.
The chief said he had seen Arlotta’s letter and the claim of a police investigation. But Rader said no one had contacted his department.
The spokesman for Troop F of the New York State Police at Middletown could not be reached before deadline.
A priest since 1992
Arlotta was ordained for the Archdiocese of New York in 1992. Before ordination, he was a New York City educator for 17 years. He was educated in Catholic schools and holds certification as a school supervisor, according to the Archdiocese of New York.
In 2014, he succeeded the Rev. Michael McLoughlin, who had been pastor of the Church of St. Stephen, the First Martyr for 12 years. He was also named administrator of St. Joseph’s in Florida and St. Stanislaus in Pine Island in 2022.
Before the Warwick appointment, Arlotta had been pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Highland Falls.
’Step away from my duties’
In his letter, Arlotta said Cardinal Timothy Dolan had granted his leave of absence.
The Rev. Reynor Santiago, the parochial vicar at St. Stephen’s, has been appointed temporary administrator of the Warwick church. He acknowledged his appointment, but declined further comment.
Meanwhile, Arlotta wrote that he did “not know how long this leave will be, or when I might return to the active priesthood.
“It is necessary for me to take this step in order to evaluate my priesthood and reestablish my commitment to celibacy,” he continued, “and to take care of my own physical and mental health.”
‘I will keep you in my prayers’
The Good Newsroom, a feature of the Archdiocese of New York’s web site, carried a story about Arlotta’s situation under the headline “Archdiocesan Priest Steps Away from Parish” dated Jan. 17.
The article indicated that Arlotta thanked Cardinal Dolan for allowing him to take a leave.
The article closed with the final two sentences in Arlotta’s letter: “Please know of my regret for any pain this may cause you. I love you all very much, and will keep you in my prayers. Would you please pray for me as well?”