Warrant Served on Area Priest's Home

By Jake Palmateer
Daily Star
June 12, 2009

The Delaware County Sheriff's Office is investigating a Margaretville priest in connection with allegations of endangering the welfare of a child and other actions.

A search warrant was executed Monday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, the church rectory, the parish center and a garage, according to Undersheriff Doug Vredenburgh.

The Rev. James McDevitt is the pastor of the Academy Street church.

"This was an investigative step to take regarding the investigation of these allegations," Vredenburgh said Thursday. "We weren't looking for a particular item."

Vredenburgh said the warrant covered "general items" related to the alleged crime.

A report in the Catskill Mountain News said McDevitt was under investigation for possibly endangering the welfare of children.

The investigation involves the misdemeanor offense of endangering the welfare of a child and other charges, Vredenburgh said.

But Vredenburgh declined to discuss the nature of the allegations or charges.

"We suspect there will be an arrest made in this charge," he said.

An unnamed parent interviewed by the Catskill Mountain News told the paper McDevitt had purchased expensive gifts for a group of adolescent boys in recent years. There have been allegations McDevitt also physically disciplined several boys, the paper reported.

"As a result of the publicity, there have been additional leads developed," Vredenburgh said.

Albany Diocese Director of Communications Kenneth Goldfarb said the diocese is aware of the search warrant.

"The church is cooperating," Goldfarb said. "Father (McDevitt) has requested a voluntary leave of absence pending the outcome of this investigation."

Goldfarb said the diocese is making arrangements to ensure church services continue.

"There will be Mass this weekend," Goldfarb said.

McDevitt was arrested June 2 after a car accident and charged with driving while intoxicated. The crash left him injured, and he was treated at A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital in Oneonta before being transferred to Albany Medical Center.

He did not have life-threatening injuries, and deputies who interviewed him Tuesday said he was expected to soon be released.

Albany Medical Center officials said Thursday he was no longer listed as a patient.

McDevitt did not return a phone message left Thursday at the church.

Deputies are asking that anyone who may have information regarding alleged incidents call 746-2336.


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