Advocate Wants Long Sentence for Abusive Priest

By Joanne Viviano
The Columbus Dispatch
August 28, 2013

[with video]

An advocacy group is asking the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus to urge a Canadian judge to hand a harsh sentence to a former central Ohio priest who has been convicted of sexually touching a teen in British Columbia.

The Rev. Philip Jacobs was found guilty in February of sexually touching a person between the ages of 14 and 18. He could be sent to prison for five years when he is sentenced next Wednesday.

Carol Zamonski of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests was Downtown today outside St. Joseph Cathedral, the seat of the Columbus diocese. She delivered a letter to the adjacent offices of Bishop Frederick Campbell asking him to use his pulpit and parish bulletins to encourage victims of Jacobs to speak out.

“We urge victims to come forward quickly, report this to the Canadian judge who will be sentencing Father Jacobs next week,” Zamonski said. “It seems that the maximum sentence might be merely five months, with no accountability that we can see for his future access to people that he might prey on.”

The Saanich News has reported that a prosecutor has suggested a four- to six-month sentence followed by two years of probation, and inclusion on a national sex-offender registry and DNA databank.

Deacon Thomas Berg Jr., chancellor of the Columbus Diocese, said Campbell was traveling today and would review Zamonski’s letter upon his return.

“In regard to the Jacobs case, the Diocese of Columbus continues to urge anyone who may have been harmed to contact civil authorities as well as the diocesan victims’ assistance coordinator,” he said.

According to court testimony, Jacobs ran his hand up and down the pants-clad leg of a boy he was tutoring at St. Joseph the Worker School in Saanich. Jacobs served at the school in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The victim testified that he lay on a couch in the priest's home with his legs over Jacobs' lap and Jacobs' hand touched his genitals, according to the newspaper.

Jacobs’ attorney, Chris Considine, has said that the priest maintains that he unintentionally brushed the boy's groin.

During a July court hearing, Jacobs apologized to the victim and his family, the Saanich News reported.

“I regret that I was not responsible to see how problematic that situation was,” he said.

In central Ohio, Jacobs served at St. Anthony Parish on the North Side from 1975 to 1979, St. Philip the Apostle Parish on the East Side from 1979 to 1981, and St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Westerville from 1986 to 1989.

He also taught philosophy at the Pontifical College Josephinum on the Far North Side from 1986 to 1993.

During his trial in British Columbia in December and January, Jacobs testified that he took teen boys on overnight trips when he worked in Ohio, intending to introduce them to masturbation.

He was acquitted on one count of sexual assault and two counts of sexually touching a person younger than 14.

When Jacobs was arrested on the Canadian charges in 2010, a spokesman for the Diocese of Columbus told The Dispatch that diocesan officials had received about 10 credible reports of abuse by Jacobs in central Ohio and that all allegations had been passed on to police.


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