THE BRONX - The Throgs Neck priest accused of stealing money from New York City churches has stepped down.

Father Peter Miqueli announced his resignation Saturday night in light of the numerous allegations made against him.

A civil lawsuit filed against Miqueli and the Archdiocese of New York is accusing the church leader of misappropriating funds.

The lawsuit claims those funds allegedly went to buy a house in New Jersey, illegal drugs and for weekly sex acts with a man named Keith Crist.

In his resignation letter, Miqueli says he is not guilty of the charges, but does not want to be a distraction to the church coming into the Christmas season.

Parishioners at St. Frances de Chantal's Church say they're praying for father Miqueli, whether he is guilty or not.

The Archdiocese of New York says it is investigating.