Catholic archbishop reverses Towson parish transfer of priest identified in AG’s investigation

Baltimore Sun [Baltimore MD]

May 12, 2023

By Lee O. Sanderlin

Monsignor J. Bruce Jarboe, recently identified as one of the high-ranking Catholic clerics cited in an attorney general’s investigation into how the church handled child sex abuse cases, will not transfer to a prominent Towson parish as planned.

Archbishop William Lori told parishioners Friday that instead of moving in July to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Jarboe will remain pastor of St. Ann in Hagerstown. Lori sent letters to members of both parishes and discussed the change in the Catholic Review, an archdiocesan publication.

Jarboe also serves on the board of trustees for St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore (Lori is the board chair) and is an ex officio member of the St. Maria Goretti Catholic High School board of trustees in Hagerstown.

Jarboe is one of five clerics whose identities were redacted in a public version of the report by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. The Baltimore Sun named them last week.

The Sun obtained Friday the letter Lori sent to Immaculate Conception parishioners and parents of students at the parish school, in which he wrote that Jarboe “was not involved in a ‘cover-up.’”

Jarboe served as the archdiocese’s associate director of clergy personnel, then its director, from 1995 to 2002. During that time, according to the attorney general’s report, Jarboe conferred with law enforcement officials in Harford County about their investigation into Father Kenneth Farabaugh, who was accused of raping a 15-year-old girl in the ‘80s.

In 2000, Jarboe counseled Father David G. Smith, who may have had a relationship with a business partner when that person was a student at Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School in Baltimore, where Smith had taught, according to the report. Smith told Jarboe he wanted to receive psychological treatment, and Jarboe suggested he consider a facility that would not “mark him unfairly” in the future.

In another case, Smith pleaded guilty in 2002 to a charge of “perverted practice” in Baltimore County. A judge gave him probation and the archdiocese continues to pay him a pension and health insurance benefits, according to the report.

The victim in that case, Brian P. Hannon, told The Sun recently that he met with Jarboe about his allegations against Smith. He recalled Jarboe as “very condescending” during the exchange.

The archdiocese and Jarboe have repeatedly declined to comment to The Sun. Jarboe did not return a call Friday afternoon.

In addition to Jarboe, The Sun identified Monsignors Richard ”Rick” Woy, George D. Moeller and G. Michael Schleupner as the report’s Officials B, D and E, respectively. Woy is head pastor at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Crofton and Schleupner celebrates Mass at Our Lady of Grace in Parkton. Moeller is retired, but celebrates Mass at Mercy Ridge, a Catholic retirement community in Timonium where he lives.

Lori also sent letters to Crofton and Parkton parishioners, expressing his support for the priests, the archdiocese said in the Catholic Review.

The Sun identified former Wilmington, Delaware Bishop W. Francis “Fran” Malooly as the “Official C” in the report. Malooly has declined to comment.

“I will say something eventually, I hope, just not at this time,” Malooly said Thursday outside his Wilmington home.

The attorney general’s report lists all five as having contributed to cover-ups of abuse or as having helped priests try to avoid accountability for their actions.

Advocates for abuse victims and survivors have called for the officials to lose their power to perform ministry and for Lori to resign.

An Immaculate Conception parishioner, Michael DeVincentis, emailed the parish Sunday to resign his membership because of Jarboe’s incoming assignment there. As of Wednesday, he told The Sun he had not received a response.

News of Jarboe’s canceled transfer follows Woy’s resignation last week from the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center’s board of directors, a day after The Sun revealed his identity in the attorney general’s report. In addition to his role as pastor in Crofton, Woy remains on the board at Mercy Ridge, where he serves at Lori’s pleasure.

In a March ruling about what names should be redacted from the report, Baltimore Judge Robert K. Taylor wrote that the people whose names are redacted in the report are either living abusers or individuals accused of “covering up abuse, silencing victims.”

Lori, in a wider message Friday to the half-million Catholics living in the archdiocese’s territory, said none of the five men participated in a “cover-up” and each contributed to “enhanced” accountability within the church’s ranks and to the public, beginning in 1993.

“How is it a cover-up if you report everything to law enforcement?” Lori wrote.

A product of a four-year investigation, the attorney general’s report shows multiple instances where the five men either did not report, or did not fully report, allegations against priests.

In one case, the report said Malooly and Schleupner knew in 1987 that Father Thomas Bauernfeind had sexually abused a 16-year-old girl in Baltimore. The archdiocese did not report his abuse until 2002, according to the report. Baurenfiend died in 2003.

In another, Malooly knew in 1992 about a priest, who decades earlier as a seminarian, molested a young boy, the report said. Malooly prepared a secret report for then-Archbishop William Keeler without mentioning the seminarian’s name. That priest, Father John Banko, was convicted in New Jersey of sexually abusing two boys under the age of 13. Both instances occurred after Malooly was made aware of the original allegation against Banko, who died in 2016.

The report also described the case of Father Robert Newman, who told Malooly and Schleupner he molested a dozen boys on more than 100 occasions in 1987, yet a police report about the abuse only listed one instance. Church officials sent Newman for psychological treatment before facilitating his transfer to Connecticut, where he was a priest for 12 more years. It was not until 2002 that the scope of his abuse was revealed. The Sun has not been able to reach Newman for comment.

In his message to the faithful, Lori said that the church’s response to allegations today is different than it was decades ago.

“But to say that certain priests of this generation of leadership willingly or knowingly perpetuated the sexual abuse of children is simply not the case,” he said. “They followed what were understood as the best practices of those decades and worked in good faith to improve the church’s response.”

Lori, in the Catholic Review article, said a court order prevents him from confirming the names of the five officials and releasing the names of 10 living abusers whose identities are redacted in the report.Attorney General Anthony Brown has strongly rebutted that claim, stating previously that Catholic officials can release those names “at any time.”

Lori also said that the archdiocese cooperated with the attorney general’s investigation. Investigators obtained the church’s records using a grand jury subpoena.

Baltimore Sun reporter Alex Mann contributed to this article.