Priest Placed on Leave Surrounding Accusations of Sexual Abuse

The Wpmi
May 15, 2013

[with video]

TILLMAN'S CORNER, Ala. (WPMI) The priest at St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church is on administrative leave after allegations of sex abuse surfaced.

A now 34-year-old woman said the alleged act happened in her home in 1989.

The allegations against Father James Havens were reported to the District Attorney's Office last week. But DA Ashley Rich told Local 15 on Tuesday that it's just too early in the investigation for her to comment.

No charges have been filed.

But Archbishop Thomas Rodi opened up about the allegations and he's taking them very seriously.

Rodi said last Wednesday a 34-year-old woman met with the director for child protection and told him that she was sexually abused at her home when she was just 11-years-old.

"It is sad to hear of sexual abuse of minors or accusations of abuse because sexual abuse is so traumatizing to victims and often their families as well. It's a horrendous thing to happen," said Rodi.

Archbishop Rodi immediately placed Father James havens on administrative leave which means he cannot function as a priest and he cannot live at his parish.

"It was a painful conversation. This is painful for everyone involved. But he understood that this is our policy," said Rodi.

Church members, parents and students learned about the alleged sexual abuse at a meeting Monday night. Folks we talked to in the parish Tuesday did not wish to speak to Local 15 on camera. But asked the community for prayers.

"This is serious. We take accusations seriously. We're not going to hide them and we're going to corporate with civil authorities. We'll continue to be determined to do the best we can to make sure the children are safe when involved in church ministries," said Archbishop Rodi.

Father James Havens was assigned to St. Vincent de Paul Parish in July of 2010. In 1989 he was assigned to the St. John's Parish in Butler, according to the archdiocese.

Rodi would not say whether Havens admitted guilt during their conversation. He also said it's unclear why the woman waited nearly 24 years to come forward, but he's glad she did.


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