AD Main Menu

Anchorage priest loses ministry over abuse allegations

Alaska Dispatch

The Catholic Archdiocese of Anchorage is moving forward with plans to defrock a long-time priest suspected of inappropriate behavior with five women. In 2009, the archdiocese forced Father J. Michael Hornick to resign for inappropriate physical contact with two adult women, according to a Catholic Anchor Online article dated May 2011.

After another complaint surfaced in January 2011, the archdiocese immediately suspended Hornick of all priestly ministries; he could no longer identify himself as a priest or wear priestly clothing, the Catholic Anchor reported.

Archdiocese spokesman Father Thomas Brundage told KTVA the priest broke the church's code of conduct with "occasional touches, and then attempts at kissing."

Two more women came forward since that time with similar allegations that occurred decades ago when they were minors, Brundage told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

Brundage told AP that Hornick denies the new allegations. The archdiocese is asking that people come forward if they were harmed by Hornick or other church personnel, he said.

Hornick served in Anchorage for more than 40 years.

The first accusation against the priest was reported in 1997. Hornick was sent to a treatment facility. After completing treatment and several years later, Hornick was assigned to St. Nicholas Church from 2006 to 2009. It was during his ministry there that a second woman claimed inappropriate touching by the priest. That's when officials forced him to retire, KTVA reported.

"This did not involve force, did not involve children, was not criminal in its nature," Brundage told KTVA in 2011. "These people can sometimes be rehabilitated, in hindsight in his case, perhaps that was unwise."

The church considered him dangerous following the third allegation, and began the process of permanently removing Hornick's rights to exercise as a priest. Such action has to be approved by the Vatican.

Hornick was not charged with any criminal misconduct for the three previous allegations but rather accused of three boundary violations with adult women. He could face charges for the new accusations.