Six Je­suit priests with Hous­ton ties ac­cused of abuse

Houston Chronicle - - CITY | STATE - By Shelby Webb [email protected] twit­­by­webb

Six Je­suit priests who once worked in Hous­ton have been cred­i­bly ac­cused of sex­u­ally abus­ing mi­nors decades ago, in­clud­ing five who once worked at Strake Je­suit Col­lege Prepara­tory in south­west Hous­ton and one who served in the St. Joseph Church.

The six were in­cluded in a list of 42 names re­leased by the Je­suits U.S. Cen­tral and South­ern Prov­ince on Fri­day morn­ing. Their pe­ri­ods of al­leged abuse oc­curred decades ago be­tween the 1960s and 1980s. Four of those are de­ceased.

Therese Mey­er­hoff, di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the Je­suits' Cen­tral and South­ern Prov­ince, said all those listed Fri­day are no longer serv­ing in pub­lic min­istry, al­though four re­main mem­bers of the prov­ince. She said many were re­moved af­ter a se­ries of al­le­ga­tions were re­leased in 2002.

"The church and re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties have re­ally done a lot to make places safer for chil­dren," Mey­er­hoff said. "There are no re­cent al­le­ga­tions in our prov­ince, so, hope­fully, peo­ple will feel some as­sur­ance from that."

The prov­ince noted that the list is not meant to im­ply those named have been found guilty of a crime or are li­able for civil claims. It also said in­clu­sion on the list does not nec­es­sar­ily mean the al­le­ga­tions are true or cor­rect, and that many al­le­ga­tions were made sev­eral years or decades af­ter the al­leged abuse.

Strake Je­suit Col­lege Prepara­tory is­sued a state­ment late Fri­day: “Noth­ing is more im­por­tant to us than the safety and well-be­ing of our stu­dents,” it said. “The school has a zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy re­gard­ing the sex­ual abuse of mi­nors. We have com­pre­hen­sive mea­sures and poli­cies in place to en­sure a safe en­vi­ron­ment for stu­dents. Strake Je­suit ac­tively pro­motes a cul­ture of ac­count­abil­ity and con­ducts train­ing on manda­tory re­port­ing, proper bound­aries and sex­ual abuse de­tec­tion and preven­tion. All em­ploy­ees un­dergo crim­i­nal back­ground checks and par­tic­i­pate in reg­u­lar safe en­vi­ron­ment train­ing.”

Among for­mer Strake Je­suits ac­cused of sex­u­ally abus­ing mi­nors in­clude:

The Rev. Jody Blan­chard Blan­chard al­legedly abused at least one mi­nor in the 1980s and was or­dained in 1983. He was born in 1953, and left the So­ci­ety of Je­sus in 1994.

The Rev. Thomas J. Naughton Naughton died in 2012 and was re­moved from the min­istry in 2002. He al­legedly abused at least one mi­nor in the 1970s. Al­though he was re­moved from min­istry in 2002, he re­mained a mem­ber of the So­ci­ety of Je­sus un­til 2009. He was born in 1933 and or­dained in 1965.

The Rev. Vin­cent A. Or­lando Or­lando al­legedly abused at least one mi­nor vic­tim in the 1980s and was re­moved from the min­istry in 2002. He cur­rently lives un­der su­per­vi­sion. He was born in 1941, and or­dained in 1974. The Rev. Charles G. Coyle Coyle died in 2015 and was re­moved from the min­istry in 2002. He al­legedly abused more than one mi­nor in the 1960s and 1970s. He was born in 1932, or­dained in 1965, and left the So­ci­ety of Je­sus in 2004.

The Rev. Ed­ward D. DeRussy DeRussy died in 2001 and was re­stricted from min­istry with mi­nors in 1991. He al­legedly abused more than one mi­nor in the 1970s and was or­dained in 1957. He was born in 1926. He also served a stint at St. Joseph's Hos­pi­tal in Nas­sau Bay, near League City.

The Je­suit from St. Joseph's Church ac­cused on the list is: The Rev. Austin N. Park Park died in 2015 and al­legedly abused more than one vic­tim in the 1960s. He al­ready had been re­moved from min­istry be­cause of de­men­tia when the al­le­ga­tions were re­ceived. He was born in 1918 and or­dained in 1955.

Mey­er­hoff said some of the names con­tained on the list have ap­peared pub­licly in the past but she did not know which. She said the church be­gan com­pil­ing the names sev­eral months ago by re­view­ing archived records. The West­ern Prov­ince also re­leased a list of 111 priests that have been ac­cused of sex­u­ally abus­ing mi­nors on Fri­day.

In a state­ment, Pro­vin­cial Ronald Mercier said those abused by a church they trusted de­serve trans­parency and a re­sponse that rec­og­nizes past mis­steps and seeks a new way for­ward.

"The storm that the church ex­pe­ri­ences to­day calls forth from us an un­prece­dented and yet needed re­sponse," Mercier said. "Si­lence in the face of the events of re­cent months can­not be an op­tion."

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