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  Bishop Restores Priestly Faculties of Father Richardson

The Dialogue
November 19, 2009

The Diocese of Wilmington released the following statement Tuesday:

Bishop W. Francis Malooly announced today that he has restored the ministerial faculties of the Rev. James E. Richardson. Fr. Richardson is retired priest of the Diocese of Wilmington who was suspended from ministry on June 19, 2009, when he was accused of sexual abuse in lawsuit filed anonymously by John Yoe #1. Because of the accusation, Fr. Richardsonís authority to function as a priest was withdrawn temporarily, ending an investigation into the accusation.

As provided in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young people, Bishop Malooly equested that the Diocesan Review Board conduct an investigation of the complaint against Fr. Richardson. Retired superior Court Judge incent A. Bifferato Sr., Chairman of the Review roard, commissioned former Chief Deputy Attorney General Ferris W. Wharton no investigate the complaint of John Yoe #1. Mr. Wharton concluded that the allegations against Fr. Richardson are not credible.

At a meeting, the Review Board considered Mr. Whartonís conclusions, unanimously found that Fr. Richardson was suitable for ministry, and recommended to Bishop Malooly that he restore Fr. Richardsonís ministerial faculties. Bishop Malooly accepted the recommendation of the Review Board.

Bishop Malooly said that ďThe Diocese of Wilmington takes any report of abuse very seriously. Consistent with this policy, Fr. Richardson was suspended from ministry immediately after he was accused in the lawsuit, until an investigation into the charge could be conducted. The investigation concluded that there is no credible evidence to support the allegations against Fr. Richardson, and the Diocesan Review Board stated there was no reason to further suspend Fr. Richardsonís faculties to function as a priest.Ē

The complaint of John Yoe#1 was filed on June 19, 2009, and alleged that he was abused in 1968. The complaint was filed under the Delaware Child Victimís Act, and is the only case under the Act that alleges abuse by a priest of the Diocese of Wilmington currently in ministry. All other priests of the Diocese who have been named in lawsuits under the Actare either deceased or have been permanently removed from ministry. The complaint of John Yoe #1 is the only report of alleged child abuse received by the Diocese regarding Fr. Richardson.

Fr. Richardson is 77 years old and was ordained in 1965. He served as associate pastor of St. Matthewís Church in Woodcrest, Wilmington, from 1965-1971, and as associate pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Liftwood, Wilmington, from 1971-77. From 1977-82 Fr. Richardson served as Rector of St. Peterís Cathedral. In 1982 he became a counselor with Catholic Social Services, and in 1983 was named Director of Outpatient Care at the Center for Pastoral Care. Since then Fr.

Richardson has served as an alcohol and drug counselor for the Diocese of Wilmington, an HIV and substance abuse counseling trainer for the State of Delaware, and a clinical supervisor at Limen House. In 1990 he was honored as Counselor of the Year. For many years Fr. Richardson also served as chaplain at St. Edmondís Academy.

The Diocesan Review Board was established in 2002, in accordance with the Charter for the Protection of Children & Young People. The Review Board is a confidential consultative body that advises the Bishop in assessing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy and church personnel, and in determining a priestís suitability for ministry. The Review Board comprises ten members, includes both Catholics and a nonCatholic, and one priest. The Catholic Diocese of Wilmington strongly encourages all persons who have been abused by a priest to report their abuse, both to law enforcement authorities and to the Diocese. The Diocese also offers counseling to victims of abuse. Persons wishing to report abuse, or seeking counseling, may contact the Victims Assistance Coordinator, Peggy McLaughlin, at 302-656-0651. Further information is available on the diocesan website, www.cdow.org.

 
 

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