Richmond Diocese Priest Put on Leave
Accused of Abusing Boy in Pennsylvania

By Alberta Lindsey
Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)
May 9, 1996

A Richmond Diocesan Catholic priest, accused recently of sexually abusing a boy in Harrisburg, Pa., in the early 1980s, has been placed on administrative leave.

The priest, Father John R. Bostwick III, 55, was ordained in Baltimore in 1969 and served several Virginia parishes.

For the past four years, he has served in the Diocese of Lafayette, La. He went to Lafayette in 1992 at the request of one of his friends, who was bishop there at that time.

The Catholic Diocese of Richmond knows of no other complaints of sexual misconduct against the priest, said Father Robert Perkins, diocesan vicar of priests.

Bishop Walter F. Sullivan of the Richmond diocese said Bostwick was on loan to Mount Saint Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Md., in the 1980s and befriended a family in Harrisburg, where the alleged abuse occurred.

The alleged offense occurred during 1980-82, while Bostwick was assisting in Harrisburg, Perkins said.

The accuser, whose identity was not disclosed, is now 28 years old and is receiving pastoral care and beginning professional therapy.

"Through these years, the Diocese of Richmond had no knowledge of such an offense. No other similar accusation has ever been made concerning Father Bostwick," Perkins said.

In a letter to members of the Church of Assumption in Franklin, La., where Bostwick was pastor, Edward O'Donnell, current bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette, said that diocese has had no reports of sexual misconduct by Bostwick.

O'Donnell's letter quoted the person making the accusation as having said he has no reason to believe any other person was abused.

The Diocese of Harrisburg notified the Diocese of Lafayette of the allegations within the past several weeks. O'Donnell then withdrew Bostwick's priestly faculties, and Sullivan placed him on administrative leave, Perkins said.

Sullivan also asked Bostwick to report to him by May 1. The Richmond diocese received a two-line letter this week from Bostwick saying he could not get here by May 1 but would notify the diocese when he arrived, Perkins said.

Bostwick has been scheduled for an evaluation at a treatment center, Perkins said.

"Any future ministry will only be discerned upon the completion of evaluation and necessary treatment," he said.

According to diocesan records, Bostwick served briefly at St. Marys, St. Pauls and Our Lady of Lourdes in Richmond, St. Paul's in Portsmouth, St. George in Scottsville, St. John Neumann in Powhatan and Holy Cross in Lynchburg.


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