Former Fairfield Jesuits on new list of priests accused of abuse

January 15, 2019

Nearly a dozen former priests accused of sexually abusing minors on a list released Tuesday once worked at Fairfield University and Fairfield College Preparatory School.

The names were released by the USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus. The list includes all Jesuits in the Province, living and dead, who were credibly accused of sexual abuse dating back to 1950.

None are still in active ministry, according to the society. The last known credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a Jesuit occurred in 1996, the society said.

In all, 46 Jesuits are on the list released Tuesday. Of those, 11 worked at Fairfield U, Prep or both.

Officials at Fairfield University say there are no records or accusations at this time of sexual abuse during the time they were on the Jesuit University campus.

The list includes William Cullen and George McCabe who both worked for the university. Cullen, along with Joseph Dooley, Francis Ennis, Joseph Laughlin, Philip Moriarity, Eugene Obrien, Leo Pollard, Edmund Power, James Pratt, James Sheehan all worked at one time at Prep.

“Making this list publicly available is an important step in the process of healing and reconciliation,” Rev. Thomas M. Simisky, president of Prep, said in a letter released to the high school’s community.

Fairfield University President Mark R. Nemec, released a similar letter, noting that none of the priests listed remain in active ministry.

“A few of those named did serve in some capacity at Fairfield University and or Fairfield Prep,” Nemec’s letter stated.

Nemec said beyond Province efforts to address and stop the behaviors, the university has firm policies regarding sexual misconduct that apply to faculty, students and staff.

“I encourage all of us to support one another and to report through the multiple ways made available across campus any sexual misconduct, bullying or any other inappropriate behavior,” Nemec said.

Rev. John J. Cecero, provincial for the Northeast Province, in releasing the list, said the society is hoping to contribute toward the healing from the pain and anger caused by clergy sex abuse and the lack of accountability and transparency on the part of church leadership.

To make sure it doesn’t happen again, the society said it has zero tolerance regarding instances of inappropriate conduct between a Jesuit and a minor. Since 2002, it says there are procedures in place to address these types of accusations.

The release by the Province is the latest in a series of confessions of the Catholic Church as it owns up to its role in hiding abuse among its clergy members, by moving accused priests from parish to parish. The accountability came only after the practice was revealed in the news media, and public court disclosures like one last year by a Pennsylvania grand jury.

Dioceses and archdioceses in many states have released lists of credibly accused clergy, and ordered the removal of several high-ranking church officials, including Theodore McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington, as a cardinal after an assault allegation against him was found to be credible.

In the Diocese of Bridgeport, the list was released in October. There were 26 priest on the list credibly accused of sexual abuse. The diocese has paid $52.5 million to settle abuse claims since 1953. The diocese also published a list on its website of 26 of its priests credibly accused of sexual abuse. The Archdiocese of Hartford, in November released a list of 17 names.

From the archives:

Jury finds Hartford archdiocese negligent | Catholic Church’s visiting priests come under scrutiny |

Diocese loses lawsuit in priest sex abuse case | Former altar boy claims molestation by priest; suing church officials | Conn. man: Church ignored warnings about priest | Critics want bishops to disclose where abusive priests went | 2 clergymen who hid abuse still working | Priests cited in sexual-abuse claims in 2009 | Diocese fights lawsuit alleging abuse by St. Theresa priests | Supreme Court: Release records on Bridgeport priest abuse

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