|Fallout from Abuse
By Linda M. Linonis
June 10, 2009
YOUNGSTOWN — It's unlikely criminal charges will be filed against the Catholic priest who admitted sexually assaulting a student at Cardinal Mooney High School in 1975 and 1976 because the statute of limitations has run out.
The victim, who no longer lives in the area, could still file a civil lawsuit over the matter.
Bishop George V. Murry spoke to reporters Tuesday afternoon at the chancery offices here.
He said he and the diocese removed the Rev. Thomas Crum from active ministry after a credible allegation of sexual misconduct was received. Bishop Murry said he has promised anonymity to the victim of sexual misconduct by Father Crum. The victim's name, age and gender are not being released.
Paul J. Gains, Mahoning County prosecutor, said the Ohio statute of limitations for prosecution of sex crimes against minors expires 20 years after the victim's 18th birthday. So, based on the information he has now, there could be no prosecution of Father Crum.
Bishop Murry said he was contacted May 22 by the victim, who made the allegation of sexual misconduct against Father Crum. The victim was a teenager at the time of the abuse and a student at Cardinal Mooney, where Father Crum was on the faculty from 1975-77. Bishop Murry said the victim told him the abuse did not occur on school or church grounds but more than one incident took place between 1975 and 1976 — more than 30 years ago. The bishop also would not say why the victim was coming forward now.
Bishop Murry said he followed diocesan policy and began a preliminary investigation, which took a few days. Then he instructed attorneys for the diocese to contact Youngstown Police Department and Mahoning and Stark county prosecutor's offices. The diocese covers Ashtabula, Columbiana, Mahoning, Portage, Stark and Trumbull counties.
Father Crum, pastor of Our Lady of Peace Church in Canton in Stark County, was removed from his position and placed on administrative leave. When confronted with the information, Father Crum admitted the allegation to the Rev. John Jerek, the diocesan Vicar for Clergy.
"He can't return to the ministry ... under no circumstances at any time," Bishop Murry said.
Bishop Murry said the sexual misconduct occurred when Father Crum was in his late 20s or early 30s. He is now 60. The bishop said Father Crum told him there were no other victims. Father Crum now is at a private psychiatric hospital, where he is being evaluated and treated.
"He knows this is for his own good," Bishop Murry said, and noted Father Crum went willingly.
Bishop Murry told reporters all students who were at the school when Father Crum was on the faculty will be notified of the incident.
Father Crum resigned as pastor of Our Lady of Peace. He cannot publicly celebrate the sacraments, wear clerical attire or present himself as a priest.
Bishop Murry said that on June 6, he met with the Diocesan Review Board, a predominantly lay group of men and women, about the situation. The board approved of the bishop's actions.
The bishop also said Father Crum could be forced to leave the priesthood, or could resign.
Father Crum, a priest in the diocese since 1975, has had 12 assignments including the positions at Cardinal Mooney and Our Lady of Peace. "This is a normal progression of assignments as associate pastor to pastor," Bishop Murry said. Father Crum also took a personal leave of absence from 1994-97 and went to culinary school.
Bishop Murry said he has apologized to the victim on behalf of the church; the victim wants no contact or apology from Father Crum, the bishop said.
Near the end of the press conference, Bishop Murry told reporters, "The situation is disheartening and troubles me. A national study showed that 4 percent of priests engage in this behavior while 96 percent do not. It's demoralizing to these priests," Bishop Murry said.
"It's disheartening because of the expectation of trust."
A letter from Bishop Murry was read at Masses on June 6 and 7 at Our Lady of Peace and all other churches where Father Crum served. Bishop Murry said another letter went to parents and faculty at Our Lady of Peace School.
A response team of the Vicar of Clergy, superintendent of schools and a professional counselor will be at the school at 6 p.m. Friday to assist parents in how to talk to their children about the situation.
The bishop said the diocese encourages anyone who may have experienced abuse by clergy or others associated with the church to contact the diocesan victim's assistance coordinator at (330) 744-8451 and to notify civil authorities.
XCONTRIBUTOR: Staff writer Peter H. Milliken
The Rev. Thomas Crum, who has admitted sexual misconduct with a minor, served in these locations:
1975: Assistant pastor at St. Mary Church in Massillon.
1975-77: Faculty member at Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown.
1977-79: Assistant pastor at St. James Church in Warren and St. John the Baptist Church in Campbell.
1979-85: Assistant pastor at St. Christine Church in Youngstown.
1985-88: Assistant pastor at Immaculate Conception Church in Ravenna.
1988-91: Pastor at St. Mary Church in Orwell.
1991-92: Assistant pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Youngstown.
1992-94: Pastor at St. Anthony Parish in Canton.
1994-97: Personal leave of absence at his own request.*
1997-99: Assistant pastor at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Boardman.
1999-2005: Pastor at St. Peter Church in Rootstown.
2005: Administrator and then pastor at Our Lady of Peace Church in Canton.
Other information: Visit the diocese Web site at www.cathdoy.org to read Bishop George Murry's statement and information on its child protection policy.
*Attended culinary school.
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