The Plain Dealer - cleveland.com [Cleveland OH]
October 28, 2021
By Kaylee Remington
A priest at St. Clare Parish in Lyndhurst resigned Oct. 6 after an independent investigation found he skinny-dipped with two adult men he knew from the seminary, according to the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.
Father James Cosgrove, 35, resigned more than one year after the diocese first received a report detailing accusations against him. The diocese hired a private investigator Aug. 3, 2020, the same date it received the report, diocese spokesman Deacon Jim Armstrong told cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer.
The two men were once students in the seminary, a college for men training to become priests. The two were seminarians at the time the incidents occurred, Armstrong said.
Armstrong said the report did not involve any allegations of child sexual abuse. It also did not involve any accusations of sexual contact with adults, or of adults being solicited into sexual misconduct, he said.
The report’s findings differ from accusations made public last week by The Pillar, a news outlet focused on covering the Catholic Church. The Pillar reported that three former seminarians accused Cosgrove of pressuring them into skinny-dipping with him. They also accused the diocese of failing to properly address the matter.
The diocese will ask its investigator to conduct another inquiry to clarify the disparities between its report and The Pillar’s reporting, Armstrong said.
The investigative report findings say that in late summer 2019, Cosgrove separately asked three different friends, who he met when he and they were seminarians, to go skinny-dipping with him, Armstrong said.
Two of them skinny-dipped with Cosgrove and another declined to do so, he said.
The report says one of the former seminarians drank alcohol with Cosgrove and went skinny-dipping on two separate occasions, Armstrong said. The other seminarian also drank alcohol and went skinny-dipping with Cosgrove on one occasion, he said.
One of the incidents happened at the seminary pool after hours, while the two other incidents happened at a private pool, Armstrong said.
“At no time was there any type of sexual conduct between any of these individuals and Fr. Cosgrove and at no time did Fr. Cosgrove solicit or suggest that sexual conduct should occur,” Armstrong said in an email.
The diocese sent Cosgrove for an inpatient evaluation, which took place from Nov. 9 to Nov. 13, 2020, Armstrong said. He was treated from Dec. 1, 2020 to Feb. 10, 2021.
“After Fr. Cosgrove returned to the ministry (after treatment), the diocese was made more aware of the impact that Cosgrove’s past behavior had on the three former seminarians and gave renewed consideration to whether Fr. Cosgrove could be an effective priest,” Armstrong said in the email. “Consequently, Fr. Cosgrove was asked to consider voluntarily resigning from the priesthood. After consideration, Fr. Cosgrove agreed to voluntarily resign from (the) ministry and to seek laicization (dismissal).”
Cosgrove was a member of St. Martin of Tours Parish in Maple Heights and is a graduate of Trinity High School in Garfield Heights and The University of Dayton, according to the diocese.
St. Christopher Parish in Rocky River was his first priestly assignment, the diocese said in 2017.
Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer could not reach Cosgrove for comment but has reached out to one of the former seminarians for comment.