Visiting Priest Charged in Jamestown

Associated Press State & Local Wire
February 20, 2002

Officials say they charged a visiting priest two years ago with sexual misconduct, but they believe he fled to his native India.

The Rev. Abraham Anthony, also known as Anthony Abraham, is charged in Stutsman County with gross sexual imposition, sexual assault and disorderly conduct.

The charges and an arrest warrant were filed in April 2000.

Anthony, who assisted parishioners as a visiting pastor at St. James Catholic Church in Jamestown, fled the country before police could interview him, Police Chief Dave Donegan said Tuesday.

Anthony was at St. James for about eight months and in North Dakota for approximately one year.

Donegan said three teen-age boys, all members of the church, notified police about the allegations in February 2000.

"As far as we know, he is in India," Donegan said this week. "We never got the chance to talk to him. He was gone."

Court documents say Anthony is charged with harassing one boy and having sexual contact with two others.

"We'd certainly like to talk to him (Anthony) to hear his side of it," Donegan said. "We would certainly invite him to do that - if nothing else, for the benefit of the victims."

St. James is affiliated with the Fargo Roman Catholic Diocese. The Rev. Gregory Schlesselmann, the vicar general of the diocese, said he was unaware of the charges against Anthony.

In the past week, the diocese has released the names of two other priests under investigation after complaints of sexual misconduct.

Bishop Samuel Aquila announced that the Rev. Charles Fischer had admitted to sexual misconduct while serving parishes in Pembina, St. Thomas and Drayton. The diocese also said the Rev. Fernando Sayasaya, a former associate pastor at St. Mary's church in Fargo and the Blessed Sacrament church in West Fargo, has been under investigation by West Fargo police. Sayasaya is believed to have fled to the Philippines.

Schlesselmann said Anthony was not ordained in the Fargo diocese and after learning about the allegations, officials refused to allow him to work for the diocese.

"I know he left the diocese in an abrupt fashion," Schlesselmann said.

The Jamestown Sun reported in April 2000 that the diocese told police and social services about the allegations against Anthony. The diocese placed him on administrative leave and he left for India one week later, the newspaper reported.


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