updated 8/4/2008 7:45:12 PM ET 2008-08-04T23:45:12

A Roman Catholic pastor who helped organize Pope Benedict XVI's visit to New York and gave the invocation at Gov. David Paterson's inauguration has been forced to leave his position because of allegations of sexual abuse.

The Rev. Monsignor Wallace Harris has denied the allegations that he abused a minor 20 years ago, the Archdiocese of New York said in a statement.

The matter was referred to the Manhattan district attorney's office, which said Monday that the statute of limitations had expired.

"If there are any new complaints, we will investigate," spokeswoman Alicia Maxey-Greene said.

The allegations against Harris, 61, were announced during Sunday Mass at Harlem's Church of St. Charles Borromeo, where he has been pastor since 1989.

The archdiocese said Harris will not be allowed to practice as a priest pending an investigation by its Advisory Review Board.

Harris led a prayer at Paterson's inauguration in March and served as the event coordinator for part of the pope's visit in April, including the Mass at Yankee Stadium.

Paterson's office declined to comment.

A message left Monday for Harris at a residence in Harlem wasn't immediately returned.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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