Archdiocese Investigates Abuse Claim against Priest

By Meg Tully
August 23, 2009

The Archdiocese of Baltimore has removed a former Frederick priest from the ministry, pending an investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse.

Monsignor Thomas Bevan, 73, was most recently a pastor at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Cumberland.

An individual who contacted the archdiocese alleges Bevan abused him on separate occasions in the mid-1970s while a student at the St. John Catholic Church parish school in Frederick , according to an archdiocese press release. The allegations are also being investigated by the Frederick County Sheriff's Office and Frederick County State's Attorney. State's Attorney Charlie Smith said Sunday that the investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed. There is no statute of limitations on criminal child sex abuse charges.

Have information?

Those with information on the allegations against Monsignor Thomas Bevan are asked to call the Frederick County State's Attorney Office at (301) 600-1523. The Archdiocese of Baltimore is also asking for information pertinent to the matter, either through the Office of Child and Youth Protection Hotline (866) 417-7496 or the Office of Child and Youth Protection office line (410) 547-5599.

It is standard practice for the archdiocese to remove people from the ministry during an investigation after an initial determination is made that the allegations have a "semblance of credibility," Cain said.

"We take our responsibility to protect children very seriously, and we feel it's in the best interest of everyone involved to handle it as transparently as possible so that we can get to the truth, which is ultimately our goal," Cain said.

In a press release, the archdiocese stated it met with Bevan on Tuesday and he denied the allegation.

He was removed from the ministry and his faculties were revoked that day.

The archdiocese learned of the allegation in June and contacted the State's Attorney. The archdiocese was asked not to take further action, including continuing its own investigation or contacting Bevan.

That was because the state's attorney's office deterimined Bevan's current assignment would not enable him to molest or have inappropriate contact with minors and they didn't want the archdiocese's involvement to jeopardize the criminal investigation, Smith said.

On Tuesday, the archdiocese received permission to continue its investigation. The allegation will be investigated by the archdiocese's Office of Child and Youth Protection, with oversight from an independent review board.

This is the second allegation the archdiocese has received against Bevan.

In 2005, it investigated an allegation by another individual of child sexual abuse dating back to 1974.

Bevan also denied that abuse, the press release stated.

After an investigation, the archdiocese determined there was not sufficient evidence to remove him, the press release stated. It was also reported to the Frederick County State's Attorney, but that office deterimined there was not sufficient evidence to pursue it.

Parishioners at St. Patrick Catholic Church were informed of the suspension at a 1 p.m. meeting today. Other parishes where he served, including St. John Catholic Church in Frederick , will be informed next weekend.

The archdiocese is seeking information and asks those with information to contact the police as well as the archdiocese. Bevan was ordained a priest in 1963 and served at St. John in Frederick from 1974 to 1979.

While there, he was an associate pastor of the church and did not teach a class at the school, Cain said. He taught liturgy classes at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg .


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