Jesuits name priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children in 8-state area

The Maryland Province Jesuits, a Catholic religious order with priests serving throughout the Washington area and across eight states, released a list Monday of priests in the order who have been credibly accused of abusing children since the 1950s.

The list includes five living Jesuits, three who left the order, and five who have died.

"We are deeply sorry for the harm we have caused to victims and their families. We also apologize for participating in the harm that abuse has done to our Church, a Church that we love and that preaches God's care for all, especially the most vulnerable among us," the Rev. Robert M. Hussey, leader of the Maryland Province Jesuits, wrote in a letter accompanying the detailed list of names and accusations. "The People of God have suffered, and they rightly demand transparency and accountability. We hope that this disclosure of names will contribute to reconciliation and healing.

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The men accused of abusing minors served in high schools, including Gonzaga College High School in the District; in colleges, including St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, Wake Forest University in North Carolina and several more; at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital; at churches in the District and Baltimore; and other institutions.

Much of the abuse detailed in the reports dates back more than half a century. But other accusations are much more recent, and the list reveals that some of the Jesuit priests were not removed from ministry until well after 2002, when the Boston Globe published its expose of abuse in the church and the U.S. Catholic bishops committed to rooting out abusive priests.

Two of the five living Jesuits on the list were removed in the 1990s: Michael L. Barber pleaded guilty in 1994 to a sexual offense that the order believes occurred that year, and was removed from ministry the same year. Another priest, William J. Walsh, was accused of abusing children in the District, Prince George's County in Maryland, and in Pennsylvania, from the 1950s to the 1980s, and was removed from ministry in 1996.

But others were not removed from ministry until well after the Catholic Church implemented policies designed to root out abusive priests in the early 2000s.

One priest, Neil P. McLaughlin, is believed to have abused children from the 1950s to the 1980s. Accusations came in from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia, Massachusetts and New York. He was not removed from ministry until 2007.

J-Glenn Murray was accused of abuse that happened once around 1981, but was not removed from ministry until 2011. Claude L. Ory faced multiple allegations of sexual abuse, probably in his time in Louisiana working at a Jesuit high school in the 1970s, and was not removed from ministry until 2007.

The Maryland province said that today, all five men are "living in a restricted environment on a safety plan."

The province also listed six more priests who could not be fully investigated, sometimes because the priest had died, but who had been accused and in whose cases the order said there was "a reasonable possibility (semblance of truth) that the alleged offense occurred."

The Maryland Province, which includes Jesuit priests from Georgia to Pennsylvania and oversees a large number of high schools and colleges, noted that five Jesuits who have been publicly included on lists of accused priests published by other provinces across the country also served in churches, schools or other institutions in the Maryland province at some point, and five more studied in the province.

Among the five priests who have died, three were removed from ministry before their deaths. One, accused of numerous sexual offenses over a span of more than 30 years, died in 2004 without facing consequences in the church or in court. A second, accused of an unwanted kiss in 1985, died in 2007 without being removed from ministry.

In the wake of a Pennsylvania grand jury report in August that named more than 300 accused priests in the state and brought renewed attention to abuse by Catholic clergy, dioceses across the country and some religious orders such as the Jesuits have published lists in recent months of credibly accused priests. That includes the Archdiocese of Washington, where Cardinal Donald Wuerl stepped down in October amid furor about his handling of abusive priests in the past - and where religious orders like the Jesuits are under new scrutiny after a priest was arrested recently on charges he abused girls at Washington’s Sacred Heart parish.