Jesuits in Northeast post list of priests accused of abuse
NEW YORK (AP) — The governing body for the Jesuit order in the northeastern United States released a list Tuesday of 50 priests under its jurisdiction who have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct with minors.
All but 15 of the Roman Catholic priests on the list released by the USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus are dead, and all of the alleged abuse all took place before 1997.
Two former priests are incarcerated, one for possession of child pornography and one for abuse charges.
“At the heart of this crisis is the painful, sinful and illegal harm done to children by those whom they should have been able to trust,” the Rev. John J. Cecero, the top official for the province, said in a statement, adding, “We did not know any best practices to handle these violations many decades ago and regrettably made mistakes along the way.”
The list includes priests who served in Jesuit high schools and colleges throughout New England, New York and northern New Jersey.
Leaders of several universities where accused priests have served released statements in response to the list.
“We are heartsick that the shadow of the crisis within the larger Catholic community has been cast upon our University, and deeply troubled by the very real possibility that there are still survivors whose accounts of abuse we have not yet heard,” said the Rev. Joseph McShane, president of Fordham University.
Linda LeMura, president of LeMoyne College in Syracuse, said, “We deeply regret any abuse that occurred on our campus. We encourage survivors and any member of our community to reach out to the resources available to you and to report sexual harassment, misconduct or abuse allegations to these resources and to law-enforcement agencies as appropriate.”
The list released Tuesday includes James Talbot, a former priest and high school teacher who pleaded guilty last year to charges that he sexually assaulted a boy in the 1990s in Freeport, Maine. Talbot’s accuser said in court in September, “To this day, I remember the steps leading inside the church as if they were guiding me to hell.”
Another former priest, James Kuntz, pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography in federal court in New Jersey in 2008.
The Rev. Keith Pecklers, a professor of liturgy at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, is the only priest on the list still serving at a Jesuit-run institution. A New Jersey man testified in 2010 that he was abused by Pecklers when Pecklers was 17 and the victim was 14.
A Jesuit spokesman said Pecklers remains active because the alleged abuse happened in his teens before he was ordained. The spokesman said Pecklers is monitored in Rome and in not allowed access to minors.
The Jesuit provinces in the other four regions of the United States have previously released their lists of priests who have credibly been accused of abusing minors.
The disclosures by the Jesuits follow the release of lists of hundreds of priests accused of abuse by Catholic dioceses across the U.S.
“Releasing these names publicly is crucial not only for the healing of survivors, but also to encourage victims who may be suffering in silence to come forward and to deter future clergy sex crimes and cover-ups,” said Zach Hiner, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, in an email.
“Still,” he said, “the fact remains that this is a long-overdue move prompted only by pressure from prosecutors, parishioners and the public.”