Baltimore Sun [Baltimore MD]
April 19, 2021
By Jonathan M. Pitts
A longtime Baltimore priest has been suspended from ministry after an investigation by police into allegations that he sexually abused a minor in Carroll County starting in about 1989.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore has removed the authority of Rev. Martin H. Demek, the pastor of Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Bolton Hill, to function as a priest after investigators with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office conducted an inquiry into a report that he sexually abused a minor at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Manchester, where Demek served as pastor from 1987 to 1996.
No criminal charges have been filed in the case, according to Cpl. Jon Light, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, but the archdiocese announced the disciplinary measures after beginning its own investigation late last week.
The alleged victim was 11 at the time of the first reported incident, and multiple incidents allegedly took place, according to a statement the archdiocese released Monday.
Light said the alleged incidents continued through 1994. The sheriff’s office consulted with the office Carroll County state’s attorney on the matter, he added.
Demek, 71, has denied the charges and is cooperating with the archdiocese’s investigation, said Christian Kendzierski, a spokesman for the archdiocese.
Demek responded to an email inquiry by referring questions to his attorney, Joseph Murtha.
“In light of the Archdiocese’s ongoing investigation it would be inappropriate for Father Demek to comment,” Murtha wrote in an email to The Baltimore Sun.
The archdiocese first received the allegations in January, Kendzierski said, and immediately reached out to police. Archdiocesan policy requires that the archdiocese report allegations of abuse to law enforcement, cooperate with any law enforcement inquiries that follow and conduct an investigation of its own.
The archdiocese then honored a request by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office to refrain from taking any independent action until the department investigated and gave the archdiocese a go-ahead.
The sheriff’s office gave the archdiocese official approval to move forward late last week, Kendzierski said, at which point it began its own investigation.
The archdiocese stressed that its inquiry has just gotten under way.
“This matter is in an early stage of investigation, and thus no determination of credibility has been made by the Archdiocese,” Monday’s statement read. “However, the Archdiocese is [notifying the public] in order to solicit any relevant information … and to fulfill its commitment to open communication with affected communities.”
Murtha said it’s the archdiocese’s own policies that require it to conduct an investigation when allegations against church employees are brought to law enforcement attention, whatever their merit.
“Unfortunately, the mere allegation [which] acts as the impetus for the investigation results in the suspension from the ministry until the investigation is closed,” he wrote, adding that Demek “looks forward to returning to serving the community he has faithfully served for the past 46 years.”
Demek, a native of South Baltimore who was ordained to the priesthood in 1975, has been pastor of Corpus Christi — a parish of about 180 families founded in the late 19th Century — since 2010.
He served as an associate pastor at Our Lady Queen of Peace from 1975 to 1980 and has served at St. Thomas Aquinas, Shrine of the Little Flower, St. William of York, Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Perpetual Help at various times in his career.
“The Archdiocese of Baltimore is committed to protecting children and helping to heal victims of abuse,” church officials said. “We urge anyone who has any knowledge of any child sexual abuse to come forward, and to report it immediately to law enforcement.”
Anyone with information relevant to the case is asked to contact the Archdiocese Office of Child and Youth Protection at 410-547-5348.
As religion and Maryland enterprise reporter for the Baltimore Sun, Jonathan Pitts covers news developments within faith communities and the many and sundry ways in which Marylanders live. A native of St. Louis, Mo., and a graduate of Haverford College and the University of Missouri School of Journalism, he came to the Baltimore Sun in 1999.