Long Island Priest Suspended Amid Allegations
By Zolan Kanno-Youngs
Wall Street Journal
May 15, 2016
The former president of Chaminade High School, a Roman Catholic all-boys school on Long Island, has been suspended from publicly performing priestly duties.
The move comes after credible allegations against Rev. James Williams of misconduct with a student, according to the religious order affiliated with the school.
Father Williams worked at the school from 1991 to 2012, and served as its president from 2001 to 2011. He hasn’t been charged in the matter.
The Marianist Province of Meribah, the Roman Catholic order that runs Chaminade, posted a letter on the school’s website Friday, saying that an investigation into allegations of misconduct by Father Williams had been conducted and that “after due consideration they have been deemed credible.”
Father Williams has denied the allegations, the letter said, and the case has been sent to the Holy See in Rome for final resolution.
Father Williams couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday and information regarding his attorney’s identity wasn’t made available. Neither the Marianist Province nor the school returned calls for comment.
In February 2015, the Nassau district attorney’s office received a letter reporting “inappropriate activity,” sent from an attorney representing the Diocese of Rockville Centre, said Brendan Brosh, a spokesman for the district attorney.
The following day, he said, the office spoke to the alleged victim for the first time. The former student said he was abused by Father Williams in 2011, said Mr. Brosh.
The student didn’t want to pursue criminal charges, Mr. Brosh said. Even if he did, the statute of limitations for the alleged misdemeanor sexual abuse expired in 2013, he said.
In May 2016 District Attorney Madeline Singas’s office received its first letter from a law firm representing the school, Mr. Brosh said.
In a follow-up letter sent to school parents Sunday, Chaminade President Thomas J. Cleary said school officials notified authorities as soon as they learned of the allegations from the diocese.
“It was in the course of [the subsequent] investigation that we first learned that one of the alleged incidents dated back to 2011,” the letter said.
Father Williams was hired as a faculty member in 1991, according to the Marianist Province letter posted on the school website.
According to a school history on Chaminade’s website, he was elevated to president in 1999 and stepped down in 2011—the same year of the alleged sexual misconduct.
He remained on the faculty until 2012, according to the Marianist Province letter.
Victor Vaiana, a member of the Long Island all-boy’s school’s graduating class of 2008, said he wasn’t shocked by the results of the investigation into James Williams, given the recent national spotlight on sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests.
But he said: “If you would put [all the school’s staff] in a lineup, would I have picked Father James? Not necessarily.”