New Jersey 101.5

April 30, 2019

By Sergio Bichao

A national organization representing sex-abuse survivors are calling on Catholic Church officials to help oust a defrocked priest who was once accused of impregnating an underage girl but who now works in this public school district.

New Jersey 101.5 reported on Monday that a state Department of Education arbitrator blocked the district from firing middle school English teacher Joseph DeShan after parents raised concerns with his past.

The arbitration decision this month said officials could not fire DeShan unless he was convicted of a crime or has done something wrong while employed by the district.

David Clohessy, a past president of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said church officials have the “duty” to “warn people about him and beg witnesses and whistleblowers to come forward.”

“Victims aren’t inclined to break years or decades of silence unless they’re confident that somebody is really paying attention and someone will take action,” he said Tuesday.

“Bishops [need to] stand there in the pulpit and say: Please, if you have any information that might help law enforcement pursue a case against DeShan, it’s your Christian duty, it’s your civic duty to pick up the phone and call 911.”

Earlier this school year, the district suspended DeShan — the second time it has done so since 2002, when officials first learned that DeShan had impregnated a 15-year-old girl while he was a priest in the late 1990s in Connecticut. But officials in 2002 could find no cause to fire DeShan, who also had support from parents. Seventeen years later, DeShan no longer has support from a new set of administrators and parents.

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