Md. Jesuits name priests ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing minors

WASHINGTON — The Maryland Province of Jesuits has released a list of names of Jesuit priests, including several who served in the D.C. area, who it says have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors dating back to the 1950s.

Officials with the Maryland province said they hope the release of the names will provide transparency and help restore trust in the Catholic Church, which faced a spiraling series of scandals over the summer relating to how the church has dealt with abusive priests.

“The People of God have suffered, and they rightly demand transparency and accountability,” the Rev. Robert H. Hussey, the provincial of the Maryland order, said in a Dec. 17 letter to parishioners. “We hope that this disclosure of names will contribute to reconciliation and healing.”

The list contains the names of 13 priests with credible allegations that were investigated by the Maryland province.

Five of the priests remain members of the Catholic order, according to the province. However, they have all been removed from the ministry and are living in restricted environments and strictly monitored under “safety plans,” the province said.

Allegations were also substantiated against another eight Jesuit priests who have either died or have left the Jesuits.

While much of the abuse dates back several decades, the last known incident of sexual abuse of a minor by a Jesuit listed in the report was in 2002. The last time the province removed a Jesuit priest from the ministry over previous allegations of abuse was in 2011, according to the list.

The list contains the names of Jesuits who were assigned to Gonzaga College High School and Georgetown University in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, among other pastoral assignments across the eastern U.S.

The Maryland Province of Jesuits encompasses nine states, including South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia, southern New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. It also includes D.C.

Some of the priests named in the list have faced criminal charges.

Michael Barber, who is now in his 70s, pleaded guilty in 1994 in New Jersey to a charge of harassment by offensive touching. The new report said the offense involved a single allegation of sexual abuse, and he was removed from ministry that same year. Barber was assigned to Gonzaga College High School in D.C. in two separate stints, once in the late 1960s and again in the late 1970s. He was also assigned to Georgetown University Hospital between 1976 and 1978.

Garrett D. Orr pleaded guilty in 2011 to two counts of fourth-degree sexual offense stemming from the abuse of two boys at Georgetown Prep School in North Bethesda — one in 1989 and another in 2002, according to the list. Orr was removed from the ministry in 2005 and left the Jesuits in 2008.

A total of five Jesuits associated with Georgetown Prep were named in the report, although the claims of abuse against the others came after their assignments there, school president Rev. James R. Van Dyke said in a letter to the school community.

“I cannot express strongly enough on behalf of this institution and of the Society of Jesus my deepest apology and contrition to those whom we failed,” Van Dyke said in the letter. “I am grateful to those who came forward; that is an extraordinarily difficult task, I know, on so many levels — moral, spiritual, and psychological. I can only say to you that your painful honesty about what you experienced has made the rest of us aware of a problem — a deeply-rooted problem that afflicts all human institutions — that we all must acknowledge and face.”

Allegations against six Jesuits could not be fully investigated because the allegations were made after their death, but the claims were reasonable and had the “semblance of truth,” according to the report.

The province acknowledged that some priests who were credibly accused of abusing minors were allowed to return to ministry after receiving treatment. But it said new rules put in place in 2002 establish clear procedures for removing from the ministry all priests who have been credibly accused and the order takes a zero-tolerance approach to such claims.

Over the summer, a bombshell report from a Pennsylvania grand jury concluded hundreds of Catholic priests had molested more than than 1,000 children since the 1940s. The report was also deeply critical of the role the role played by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, who at the time was Pittsburgh’s bishop and was accused of helping to protect abusive priests. Wuerl denied the allegations but stepped down in October after Pope Francis accepted his resignation.

This content was republished with permission from CNN.

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