Sexual abuse allegations against deceased former Saint Ignatius chaplain deemed to be credible, school president says

WKYC-TV, NBC - 3 [Cleveland OH]

April 5, 2024

By Tyler Carey

The Rev. Frank Canfield, a Jesuit priest who died in 2023, is said to have abused a student during the 2011-12 school year.

An allegation of sexual abuse against a deceased Jesuit priest and former Saint Ignatius High School chaplain has been deemed to be credible, according to a letter sent to alumni by the school’s president.

The accusations involve the Rev. Frank Canfield, who worked at Ignatius from 2006-14 and died last year at the age of 87. The Rev. Raymond P. Guiao, the school’s president and chief mission officer, says an alumnus first reported the allegations to him this past December and claimed the abuse occurred during the 2011-12 academic year.

Guiao writes he encouraged the man to contact the Jesuit Order’s Midwest Province, which began conducting an investigation. That inquiry wrapped up in March, and the province “deemed the allegation to be credible, meaning there is reasonable certainty that it occurred.”

“The safety and well-being of our students are among our highest priorities and most sacred obligations, and we are deeply saddened to learn of sexual abuse that occurred at Saint Ignatius High School,” Guiao said in the letter to alumni from the classes of 2007-17, which was made public in the interest of “honesty and transparency.” “We cooperated with investigators with full transparency. I reached out to the individual involved to offer him pastoral counsel and to express my most sincere apologies on behalf of the school.”

Read Guiao’s letter here.

Per his obituary, Canfield was a native of Detroit and was ordained a priest in 1967. He taught at his alma mater of University of Detroit Jesuit High School for nearly two decades before moving on to St. John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo, where he served as a counselor and teacher from 1990-2005.

Regarding his tenure at SJJ, Saint Ignatius confirms that in 2022 (prior to Canfield’s death), an alumnus from that school reported a separate abuse allegation against Canfield from 2000. That claim was also found to be credible, prompting the Ignatius alum to come forward about his own experiences.

Guiao says Saint Ignatius is “continually working to examine and further bolster the many safeguards we have in place to prevent sexual abuse,” including “some of the strictest background checks in the country” along with annual training and a phone app that allows students to report suspected abuse anonymously. The president encourages any students abused at the school to contact the Midwest Province’s Director of the Office of Save Environment Marjotie H. O’Dea at (773) 975-6876 or

3News has also reached out to the Cleveland Division of Police for comment. Saint Ignatius’ full statement on the matter can be seen below:

“We were deeply saddened to hear about this incident that happened 12 years ago at our school. We immediately reached out to the alumnus, encouraged him to bring it to the attention of the Midwest Providence to investigate, and offered him our deepest apologies along with pastoral care. We are glad he came forward and hope that by doing so, he has begun the healing process he deserves.

“The safety and wellbeing of our students is our highest priority and most sacred obligation. Today, we have aggressive policies in place to protect student safety, including some of the strictest background checks in the country, annual training, and a zero-tolerance policy for any type of abusive behavior. We have equipped every student with a mobile app that empowers them to report incidents while protecting their confidentiality and anonymity.

“We are deeply committed to transparency and accountability. This commitment has guided all of our actions to do the right things — including informing parents, students, and the news media — upon learning of the situation.

“We hold everyone at Saint Ignatius to the highest standards of integrity. We have zero tolerance for any type of abuse, and any infractions of this trust will continue to be dealt with immediately.”