Rev. Brent Dugan

A Pittsburgh-area Presbyterian minister who was the subject of a television news probe into reports of “public and illegal sexual behavior” killed himself last week at the Mercer Motel.

A woman who answered the phone at the motel, but wouldn’t give her name, said the Rev. Brent Dugan checked in Wednesday evening at the motel located on U.S. Route 62 in Mercer. She said she didn’t remember if Dugan had stayed at the motel previously.

Dugan’s body was found at about noon Friday and Mercer County Deputy Coroner Dr. David Hoyt told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Dugan died of an overdose of aspirin and alcohol.

Hoyt — who could not be reached for comment Sunday — ruled the death a suicide.

His death came a day after KDKA-TV canceled plans to air an investigation that focused on Dugan’s personal life because the station “received information from someone close to Pastor Dugan that indicated he was considering doing harm to himself,” the Post-Gazette reported.

KDKA had promoted the story earlier last week, but only referred to Dugan as a “local minister.”

Community Presbyterian Church of Ben Avon has been “in shock and grief” over the death of the Rev. Brent Dugan, said the Rev. James Mead, pastor to the Pittsburgh Presbytery.

Dugan had been missing since Wednesday afternoon, and a suicide note was found Thursday morning in his home, Mead said Saturday.

Mead said that Dugan wrote in the note about his “profound sorrow and sadness, and sense of solemn grief and embarrassment, about what he thought would come to be known about his personal life.”

Mead did not elaborate.

After learning of Dugan’s death, the station issued a statement Friday expressing condolences to the pastor’s family and friends. It declined to comment Saturday.

Mead emphasized that Dugan had provided stellar leadership during his 18 years as pastor of the church.

“He was an outstanding pastor who loved the Lord, loved the church and served the church with great effectiveness,” Mead said. “This is an occasion of profound sorrow in this presbytery. People are brokenhearted.”

The Rev. Carol Divens Roth, an associate pastor to the presbytery, was asked to take Dugan’s place at the pulpit on Sunday, Mead said.

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