Former Catholic School Student Claims Priest Sexually Abused Him
Accusation Is Second for Man Called Father Jeff

By Janice D’Arcy
Baltimore Sun [Baltimore MD]
January 20, 2005

A Roman Catholic priest who a decade ago publicly denied an allegation of sexual abuse has been accused of another series of incidents, according to the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

This time, a former Calvert Hall College high school student said the priest, Jerome F. Toohey Jr., abused him over the course of several years.

Toohey, known as Father Jeff, has not been practicing as a priest since 1993, when he was first accused of abusing a young man. Toohey, 58, did not respond to a message left at his home Thursday. His lawyer, Andrew Graham, said he had no comment.

The new allegation claims that Toohey used his role as a pastoral counselor to abuse the student repeatedly from the late 1980s to the early 1990s in the priest's private residence. At the time, Toohey was chaplain at Calvert Hall, a boys school in Towson.

The new allegation surfaced when the former student called the Archdiocese of Baltimore abuse hotline several months ago, according to Alison D'Alessandro, the archdiocesan director of child and youth protection.

D'Alessandro said the archdiocese investigated and found the claim to be "credible."

Meanwhile, the allegation was referred to the Baltimore County State's Attorney's Office, which in turn referred it to the Baltimore County Police Department. A police spokesman said the claim is under investigation.

Toohey faced a lawsuit a decade ago over the first allegation of abuse, which was brought by a former student at the John Carroll School in Bel Air who claimed he was abused for years by Toohey.

Toohey maintained his innocence and enjoyed the support of dozens of friends and parishioners. At one point in 1994, more than 125 supporters gathered in a vigil to defend and pray for him.

The lawsuit was eventually dropped because state law requires that civil suits be filed within three years of the alleged harm. Still, the archdiocese removed him from ministry and removed his faculties to function as a priest.

Toohey had served at St. Francis of Assisi parish in Northeast Baltimore from 1977 to 1984 and as chaplain at Calvert Hall from 1982 to 1993, when he was removed from ministry.

He also served as chaplain to the deaf community between 1984 and 1993 and assisted at St. John the Evangelist parish in Hydes.

D'Alessandro said the archdiocese released news of the allegation Thursday to promote its policy of transparency within the church and to encourage local victims of abuse to contact the Child and Youth protection hotline at 1-866-417-7469.