Bohol Priest Has Skeletons in His Closet

Manila Standard Today
October 29, 2009

CATHOLIC officials in Detroit claimed they have contacted the Tagbilaran diocese and have made officials there aware of the “criminal history” of the former lay brother who is now a priest in Bohol.

Ned McGrath, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Detroit, claimed in a statement published at its Website that they only became recently aware of the ordination of Joseph Skelton Jr. as a priest in Tagbilaran.

He said they were not consulted prior to the ordination but “the Detroit archdiocese has since contacted the bishop of Taglibaran, to whom Skelton reports, regarding the priest’s criminal history in Michigan.”

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, in a statement published by several Detroit-area newspapers, said people should have been warned that Skelton had once studied at a Catholic seminary in Plymouth, and pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy in his seminary room. He had resigned from the seminary in 1988.

“And this month, a settlement was reached involving allegations that Skelton was involved in the abuse of a 14-year-old boy in Washington, D.C., in 1984, according to attorneys Jessica Arbour and Adam Horowitz,” the Detroit Times reported.

SNAP president Barbara Blaine told newspapers that a letter sent in 2003 warning of Skelton’s history was not enough and that Church officials should do much more. “Kids are safer and the Church is healthier when the truth is exposed.”

But the Detroit archdiocese said in a statement that Skelton had been dismissed from the St. John Provincial Seminary after being accused of sexual misconduct. “Not unlike any other institution of higher learning, the archdiocesan seminary does not track or hold responsibility for every student who ever attended classes but left before ordination.”

Blaine said people should have been warned and wants Catholic leaders to post such allegations on Catholic Web sites and have priests announce publicly names of clergy with accusations of past abuse who are transferred to their dioceses.

Skelton, in his Website, was identified as an accomplished “Praise and Worship Leader and Singer in the Philippines.” The Website said Skelton has joined several recording projects here and in the US and has performed in concerts here.


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