Women Accuse Priest of Sexual Abuse in '60s

By Mary Robbins
Catonsville Times [Maryland]
March 29, 2007

A former Woodlawn priest has been removed from his current duties as the head of an Ellicott City parish following accusations by two women claiming he sexually abused them decades ago.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore learned of allegations of sexual abuse of a minor against Monsignor Richard Smith, 67, pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ellicott City "in the past week," according to a written statement from the archdiocese. The alleged abuse occurred in the mid-to late 1960s, while Smith was a priest at the Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Woodlawn, according to the archdiocese. That parish has been known as St. Gabriel since 1997.

One woman alleges she had a series of sexual encounters over a course of months in 1967 when she was approximately 15 or 16 years old, according to the Archdiocese. Another woman said that she and Smith had one inappropriate sexual interaction "sometime in 1966 or 1967 when she was about 15 years old," the statement reads.

According to the archdiocese, Smith admitted to some of the allegations and "couldn't recall other details of his interactions with them."

Bill Toohey, a spokesman for the Baltimore County Police Department, said the matter is being investigated by the department's Family Crimes Unit. No charges had been filed as of March 27.

Smith has been removed from his ministry at the Ellicott City parish and has been stripped of his faculties to function as a priest, according to the archdiocese.

Representatives of the archdiocese met with parishioners and staff of the Ellicott City church Sunday afternoon to inform them of the allegations and answer questions. The archdiocese said pastoral care will be provided to the parish and its school.

He had served at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ellicott City since 1997.

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