Sexual Misconduct Allegations Surface against Former Scranton Jesuit

By Joe McDonald
Citizens Voice
December 1, 2010

Jesuit officials in Maryland are looking into allegations that a Jesuit priest with ties to Scranton Preparatory School, the University of Scranton and St. Thomas More Church in Lake Ariel sexually abused minors while in Scranton.

The Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, in a news release, said it was seeking information about possible "abuse of minors" by the Rev. Neil McLaughlin "during his ministry in Scranton."

According to Jesuit officials in Maryland, McLaughlin has "disclosed that there may be other victims of similar sexual misconduct in the Diocese of Scranton."

McLaughlin taught at Scranton Prep, where he was the head of the Physics Department, from 1961 to 1983. Besides teaching science courses to seniors and freshmen, he also was involved in a variety of other duties, including the Fathers Club, student trips abroad and cultural trips to major cities. He later held various administrative jobs with the Alumni Association at the University of Scranton, including Alumni Chaplain from 2002 through 2006, the news release stated.

Bill Genello, a spokesman for the Diocese of Scranton, said all pastors in the diocese have received a notice about McLaughlin. He said it will be published in church bulletins this weekend, posted on the diocesan website and published in The Catholic Light newspaper next week.

"We are assisting the Maryland Province Society in outreach to any potential victims," Genello said.

The University of Scranton also posted information on its website.

"I ask you to join me in praying for all those who may have been affected," said the Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, president of the university.

Jesuit officials in Maryland said their inquiry stems from "recent information" about possible victims in the Scranton area and a "credible allegation from an adult female who contacted the Jesuits in 2008 regarding an abusive incident she suffered as a young girl in Scranton in 1963. People who believe they are victims of abuse by McLaughlin should contact their local civil authorities and then call the Maryland Province Jesuits at 443-921-1326."

McLaughlin, who was removed from ministry by the Jesuits in 2006, following allegations of misconduct, currently lives in a Jesuit community where he has limited contact with the public and "his actions are monitored."

Before his ordination while he was a Jesuit scholastic, he taught at St. Joseph's Prep in Philadelphia and later at Loyola Blakefield High School in Baltimore. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1959.

Lackawanna County District Attorney Andy Jarbola said he was unaware of any criminal investigation involving McLaughlin, adding he believed the statue of limitations in prosecuting any alleged misconduct had probably run out.


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