Diocese reviewing allegations against Jesuit

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Has concluded a separate inquiry regarding former diocesan priest

 

On Monday, Jan. 25, the Diocese of Richmond announced that it has begun a review into allegations of child sexual abuse made against Jesuit Father Thomas P. McDonnell during his time at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Henrico County, where he served from 1996 to 2003. Father McDonnell denies the allegations.

According to the provincial for the USA East Province of Jesuits, Father McDonnell, 83, is not currently serving in ministry and has not been in public ministry since October 2020, which is prior to the time the allegation was received.

The diocese has not reached any conclusions regarding the allegations. Until this inquiry concludes, the accused is given a presumption of innocence unless the preponderance of evidence from the investigation would indicate otherwise. The diocese has also notified the civil authorities.

Jesuit Father Joseph M. O’Keefe, provincial of the USA East Province of the Jesuits, has prohibited Father McDonnell from any public ministry while the allegations are being reviewed.

As part of the Church inquiry into the allegations, the Diocesan Review Board will make recommendations to Bishop Barry C. Knestout. Based upon its findings, the Diocesan Review Board’s recommendations will assist the bishop with an appropriate response to the allegations. Then, he will make a final determination and advise the provincial of the same.

Questions related to Father McDonnell’s other assignments should be directed to the USA East Province of Jesuits’ director of communications at mgabriele@jesuits.org.

On Thursday, Jan. 28, the diocese announced that, following a lengthy investigation by the Diocesan Review Board, Bishop Knestout has determined that the allegations of child sexual abuse made against Thomas Long, a former priest of the diocese, are not credible.

For this reason, Long will not have his name added to the diocesan list of clergy against whom credible and substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse have been made. Long voluntarily left active ministry in 1988.

On June 8, 2020, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced it had received a report of allegations of child sexual abuse against the former priest. The allegations were reported to civil authorities.

In accordance with the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” the diocese conducted an internal investigation of the allegations involving Long. The information gathered was presented to the Diocesan Review Board, which reported its findings and recommendations to Bishop Knestout. The bishop accepted their recommendations and concluded that the allegations were not credible.

Just as the diocese strives to remain transparent when child sexual abuse allegations are brought forward, the diocese will also publicly clear the accused of any wrongdoing when an accused is subjected to unsupported allegations.

The diocesan Child Protection Policy can be viewed here.

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