|Possible Victims of Priest Sought
By Mark Guydish
December 1, 2010
SCRANTON – The Diocese of Scranton issued a notice Tuesday stating the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus – the Jesuits – is seeking any information from possible victims abused as minors by one of the Society's priests.
Jesuit priests who serve within the 11-county diocese do not answer to the bishop, but to their province. The priest in question, Neil McLaughlin, was ordained in 1959 and served in Scranton for much of his religious career. He taught at Scranton Preparatory School 1961-83 and 1985-86, and held several posts at The University of Scranton from 1985 through 2006. He also helped out at area churches when needed.
The diocesan notice said the Maryland Province has received "a credible allegation from an adult woman who contacted the Jesuits in 2008 regarding an abusive incident she suffered as a young girl in Scranton in 1963."
Maureen Locher, from the Maryland Province, said McLaughlin, now 82, was removed from all ministries and barred from practicing or describing himself as a priest publicly in 2006, two years before the recent allegation.
That action was taken after the Province had reviewed McLaughlin's record and discovered a much earlier allegation of sexual misconduct that apparently had not been acted on, Locher said. The entire first incident occurred before the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued its "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People."
The charter was a response to the priest sex abuse scandal that started in Boston and swept across the nation. Coupled with new mandates from the Vatican, it was designed in part as an answer to numerous allegations that bishops had concealed the problem by reassigning accused priests rather than removing them from duty.
Locher noted the Jesuits are technically not bound to the charter since they are not diocesan priests, but they follow it. One component of the charter called for all dioceses to review their records for cases of alleged abuse to make sure they were handled properly. Locher said that when the Diocese of Scranton did that, it also asked the Province to review the Jesuits in the diocese. That review uncovered the earlier allegation that sidelined McLaughlin in 2006.
Mark Guydish, a Times Leader staff writer, can be reached at 829-7161
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