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  Ex-Jesuit President Removed
Naughton, Accused of Molesting Youth in '78, Was Priest in California

By Reese Dunklin
Dallas Morning News
April 16, 2002

The former president of Jesuit College Preparatory School has been removed from his job as a Catholic priest in California after being accused of molesting a youth 24 years ago while head of the elite North Dallas institution.

The Rev. Thomas Naughton's superiors in the Jesuit order are investigating the allegation, according to the diocesan officials in suburban Los Angeles who suspended him. He is among dozens of priests around the country who have been forced from their posts in recent weeks amid a resurgent sexual-abuse scandal that led the pope Monday to summon U.S. cardinals to Rome.

Neither officials of the order nor Father Naughton could be reached for comment Monday. Jesuit Prep's current president, the Rev. Philip Postell, did not return a phone call Monday evening.

Father Naughton is at least the 10th priest who worked in the Dallas diocese to be accused of molestation. In recent years, the diocese has paid more than $ 35 million to settle victims' claims and lawsuits.

The 68-year-old Father Naughton began work at Jesuit Prep in 1973 after serving as an administrator of Jesuit schools in Tampa, Fla., and El Paso. He left in 1979 - a year after the alleged molestation - and later became head of a Jesuit retreat center in Louisiana.

In 1984, Jesuit Prep's foundation named him its "Man of the Year."

In the early 1990s, Father Naughton was director of the Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House in the Denton County town of Lake Dallas. He arrived in the early 1990s and left in 1995 to care for his ill mother in California, said the Rev. Walter McCauley, who worked with Father Naughton and remains at the retreat house.

As director, Father Naughton oversaw the retreat house's operations, which included spiritual development for priests and adults, Father McCauley said. Father Naughton had no contact with children at the retreat house, he said.

Father McCauley said he could recall no allegations of misconduct against Father Naughton.

"He seemed to be a perfectly normal person," he said.

Diocesan officials in Orange County, Calif., said little Monday about what led to Father Naughton's removal this month. Spokeswoman Maria Schinderle said that the priest faced no complaints at the church where he celebrated Mass on weekdays and had no duties at a parish school.

Jesuit officials in New Orleans notified the Orange County diocese April 5 about the Dallas allegation, she said, and Father Naughton was relieved of his duties that day.

 
 

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