Priest Resigns Post at Notre Dame Amid Accusations of Sex Abuse

New York Times
December 3, 1991

A priest who was formerly provost of the University of Notre Dame has agreed to resign his teaching post amid accusations of sexual misconduct, a church official said today.

The priest, the Rev. James Burtchaell, is a tenured professor on sabbatical from the university since August 1990, said the Rev. Carl F. Ebey, provincial superior of the Congregation of Holy Cross.

"At the request of the university, he agreed in April 1991 to resign from the faculty at the end of his current sabbatical leave in the summer of 1992," Father Ebey said in a statement.

Father Burtchaell, a Holy Cross priest, "was asked to undergo psychological evaluation and treatment, and he is doing so," Father Ebey said.

'Serious Nature'

The Dec. 6 issue of the National Catholic Reporter quoted unidentified sources as saying Father Burtchaell's pending resignation followed a university investigation into accusations that he sexually harassed and abused male students whom he was counseling.

"We acknowledge the serious nature of this matter and apologize to those who may have been hurt," Father Ebey said.

The paper said it contacted Father Burtchaell three times but he refused to comment except to say that he had not resigned.

The Associated Press could not locate Father Burtchaell, who is studying at Princeton, for comment.

The Reporter said several students had confided independently to a priest in the theology department that Father Burtchaell had sexually harassed or abused them in the 1989-90 academic year.

The priest passed the complaints to the chairman of the theology department, the Rev. Richard McBrien, who went to the provost, Timothy O'Meara. The provost began an investigation.

Father Burtchaell, a 1956 graduate of Notre Dame, became chairman of the theology department in 1968 and was named university provost in 1970. He left the provost's job in 1977 and returned to teaching.


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