December 18, 2018
By: Julia Terruso and Susan Snyder
Nearly a dozen Jesuit priests who in past decades worked in Philadelphia at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School or St. Joseph’s University were named by the religious order Monday on a newly released list of clerics who at some point were credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor.
The list was released by the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, an order whose priests served in parts of Pennsylvania, Baltimore, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.
Most of the abuse dates back decades, and in only two of the cases were priests accused of committing the abuse while in Philadelphia. None of those named are still in active ministry, though the information released shows that some priests remained in ministry years after the abuse took place.
The Jesuits said their policies for removing priests from ministry improved after the greater Catholic Church reformed its reporting rules in 2002.
“We know better now,” the release said. “Our awareness of the nature and effect of abuse of minors has changed dramatically over the years. … We recognize now our failures of the past in this regard, and we are deeply sorry.”
The Jesuits said they decided to name the priests given recent revelations about sexual abuse of minors and ongoing calls for dioceses and orders to release names. (The release this past summer of a grand jury report covering past abuse allegations in six of Pennsylvania’s eight Catholic dioceses has sparked similar investigations in more than a dozen states.)
Priests who are members of religious orders, which also include the Benedictines, Augustinians, and Franciscans, make up roughly one-third of priests in the United States. They operate largely independently from the dioceses in which they serve.
St. Joseph’s University acknowledged in a statement Monday that six of the priests on the list had ties to the university at various points from the 1930s to the 1990s, but that the school “does not currently have any records reflecting reports of sexual misconduct on our campus involving these individuals.”
Three are deceased and three were removed from ministry, the school noted.
“As a Jesuit university founded with the educational mission of developing and caring for the whole person, St. Joseph’s is deeply saddened to learn of this and other reported sexual abuse by priests and religious officials around the world,” the school said in its statement. “We continue our firm commitment to addressing and stopping any reported abuse on our own campus, and our community stands in prayerful solidarity with survivors and their families.”
St. Joseph’s Prep, which is not affiliated with the university other than sharing a name and being a Jesuit school, declined to comment and referred all questions to the Jesuits.
Among those named was Philadelphia native Stephen M. Garrity, who was assigned to the Prep off and on from 1964 to 1980. Allegations against him came to light in 2013, when the Jesuits informed the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office that they had received a credible allegation that he had inappropriate physical contact with a student at the Prep in the 1970s.
The District Attorney’s Office did not take criminal action, noting that the statute of limitations had expired, but the Jesuits continued their investigation.
A graduate of St. Joseph’s Prep, Garrity joined the Jesuits in 1957 and had a number of posts over his career, including teaching there from 1964 to 1967 and then 1971 to 1979. He also was school chaplain from 1975 to 1978.
He has not been in active ministry since 2007. He was removed as pastor of Holy Cross parish in Durham, N.C., that year for sexual misconduct with adults.
At the time the allegations were reported, he lived in a monitored community with other Jesuits.
Garrity died in 2014.
Other priests credibly accused of abuse who had assignments in Philadelphia named by the order:
William J. Walsh, who worked at St. Joseph’s Prep from 1949 to 1951 and then at St. Joseph’s University from 1986 to 1991, faced accusations of sexual abuse in Philadelphia, as well as in Maryland, Washington, and Wernersville, Pa. He was removed from ministry in 1996 and is living in a restricted environment.
H. Cornell Bradley, who worked at St. Joseph’s University from 1994 to 1999. Bradley was accused of abuse in Ocean City, Md., and Washington. He was removed from ministry in 2006 and left the Jesuits in 2007.
Michael L. Barber, who worked at St. Joseph’s University from 1988 to 1994. He pleaded guilty to a charge of harassment by offensive touching that occurred in Strathmere, N.J., and was removed from ministry in 1994. He is living in a restricted environment. Neil P. McLaughlin worked at St. Joseph’s Prep in 1953 and 1954. He was accused of sexual abuse in Dunmore, Pa., and Scranton, as well as Woodstock, Md. and Georgia, Massachusetts, and New York. McLaughlin was removed from ministry in 2007 and is living in a restricted environment.
Louis A. Bonacci was accused of unwanted touching under and over a victim’s clothes in the 1970s and 1980s in Columbia, Md. Bonacci was assigned to St. Joseph’s Prep from 1968 to 1970, was removed from ministry in 2011 and left the Jesuits in 2014.
Garrett D. Orr was assigned to St. Joseph’s Prep from 1984 to 1989. He pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual offense in the fourth degree stemming from multiple allegations of abuse in North Bethesda, Md. He was removed from ministry in 2005 and left the Jesuits in 2008.
John H. Duggan worked at St. Agnes Hospital from 1972 to 1978. He was accused of sexual abuse in Scranton, and likely abuse in Towson, Md., and other locations in Pennsylvania. Duggan died in 2004.
Jeff Burton, accused of unwanted touching in 1982 in North Carolina, was assigned to Stockton University and Atlantic Cape Community College from 1989 to 2006. He was also a priest at the Church of the Assumption in Galloway Township and at St. James in Ventnor, N.J., from 1998 to 2002. Burton was removed from ministry in 2007 and died in 2011.
Allegations that the order found were reasonable but could not be fully investigated, in some cases because the priest had died once the allegations surfaced:
- John F.X. Bellwoar, assigned to St. Joseph’s University from 1938 to 1940. He is accused of abuse in the 1950s and 1960s in Maryland and Washington. Bellwoar died in 1993.
- Thomas E. Pyne, who was accused of sexual abuse in Washington during the 1960s. He worked at St. Joseph’s Prep from 1953 to 1956, left the Jesuits in 1968, and died in 1999.
- Martin J. Casey, who worked at St. Joseph’s University from 1944 to 1947, at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School from 1954 to 1958, and at Old St. Joseph’s Church from 1964 to 1971. He was accused of a single allegation of sexual abuse around 1959 in Washington. Casey died in 2006.
The Jesuits encouraged anyone who believes they were abused by a Jesuit or employee of the province to call the Victim Assistance Coordinator at 443-370-6357, email at MARadvocacy@jesuits.org, or write to the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, 8600 LaSalle Rd., Suite 620, Towson, Md. 21286.