Drexel Official in Report Quits
He Had Been Named by a Grand Jury As a Molester Priest. the Alleged 1999 Incident Involved a Girl, 17
By Jim Remsen
October 28, 2005
A Drexel University administrator resigned this week, shortly after it was revealed that he was one of the 63 Roman Catholic priests named as molesters in the recent grand-jury report on sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
James M. Iannarella, 37, had worked for four years as Drexel's assistant vice president for government and community relations.
Iannarella was accused of sexually abusing a 17-year-old parish girl over four months in 1999, when he was a young assistant pastor at St. Joseph's Church in Aston. The grand jury said the archdiocese sent him for a psychological evaluation, then placed him on administrative leave later that year.
Drexel spokesman Philip Terranova said yesterday that Iannarella submitted his resignation Monday and that it had been accepted. Terranova declined further comment.
Iannarella could not be reached for comment.
Drexel had placed Iannarella on leave Oct. 6 pending a university review. Terranova declined yesterday to say whether the school pressed him to resign.
Iannarella left active ministry in September 2003. He is one of 10 priests whom the archdiocese has petitioned the Vatican to be laicized, or defrocked.
On the Drexel campus, the case has caused little stir among students, said Mike Andescavage, president of the Undergraduate Student Government Association.
"It's hardly a hot topic," he said.
Some sentiment has been aired in the campus weekly, the Triangle. In an Oct. 7 editorial, the paper said Iannarella was not a serial rapist, unlike some of the others, and it warned against a rush to judgment.
In a letter to the editor, the Rev. William Grogan, a Catholic priest who heads the campus Newman Center, raised a similar concern. "The depth of the hurt that many of our sisters and brothers have endured over this issue makes it exceedingly difficult" to presume innocence, Grogan said.
Tim Rardin, director of the school's Asbury Protestant Ministry, wrote a letter of dissent, saying "such an offense is not simply a matter of bad judgment... ; it is reprehensible and it is illegal."
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