Priest Pleads Guilty to Endangering the Welfare of a Child
August 14, 2014
James1.jpg Rev. James Michael Taylor pleaded guilty to one count of endangering the welfare of a child Wednesday afternoon in Clifton Park Town Court. GLENN GRIFFITH — GGRIFFITH@digitalfirstmedia.com
A Catholic priest arrested in April pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon in Clifton Park Town Court to one count of endangering the welfare of a child.
Dressed in a dark suit, white shirt, and dark tie, Rev. James Michael Taylor, 30, stood with his attorney before Judge James Hughes and calmly and clearly said, “Guilty, your honor” when Hughes asked for his plea.
Taylor, who was a youth minister at Corpus Christi Church in Clifton Park at the time of the incident, was arrested in April, accused of engaging in inappropriate conduct with a 15-year-old Clifton Park girl. He is said to have met the girl while serving as deacon and leader of the church’s youth ministry program. Taylor is said to have had physical contact but not forced contact, and shared telephone calls, text messages, and inappropriate photos with the girl.
In the courtroom, Hughes held a conference with Taylor, his attorney, Daniel Stewart, and Saratoga County Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Buckley a short time before hearing the case. Buckley said Taylor was going to enter a plea of guilty and she was requesting an order for a pre-sentence investigation and a five-year order of protection.
“We’re not asking for jail time,” Buckley told the judge. “After discussing this with the victim’s family we are asking for a five-year order of protection.”
Moments later, Hughes asked Taylor how he pleaded and Taylor entered his plea of guilty.
“In my 50 years on the bench, this is unusual,” he said. “When a plea is entered, the sentencing ability is on me. I need more information. I never thought of jail time. I considered probation.”
Yet no probation was mentioned by Buckley.
Hughes will order the Saratoga County Probation Department to do an investigation prior to sentencing, which was set for 4 p.m. Oct. 8 in the Clifton Park court.
“This is complex,” Hughes said at one point. “I need more information before I can come to a just sentencing. Today was the first time all three parties have met.”
Hughes ordered a temporary order of protection, which will be in effect until Nov. 12. At the sentencing, a permanent order of protection will be issued, he said.
Outside the courtroom, Taylor’s attorney said it was his understanding no probation is involved. He refused to comment on his client’s plea.
Taylor was an associate pastor at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Niskayuna prior to his arrest. He was placed on administrative leave by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger shortly after learning of the allegations.
Taylor cannot present himself as a priest while on administrative leave. After learning of the guilty plea, a diocese statement said Taylor will remain on administrative leave from all priestly duties as the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany’s Sexual Misconduct Review Board prepares to review the matter.
“As a church, our first and most solemn responsibility is to ensure the safety of children,” Bishop Scharfenberger said. “As is our policy, the Albany Diocese will await the conclusion of the civil legal proceedings before conducting our own review of the matter.”