Police arrest Catholic priest, 30, who served at Round Lake church

By Caitlin Morris
Troy Record
April 23, 2014

The Corpus Christi Church in Round Lake where James Taylor served as deacon.

Saratoga County Sheriff Michael H. Zurlo, Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III and Saratoga County Sheriff’s Chief Richard Castle held a press conference Wednesday morning on the arrest of Rev. James Michael Taylor, who is accused of having inappropriate conduct with a 15-year-old girl. Placed in front of them is a mugshot of Taylor.

BALLSTON SPA >> A 30-year-old priest and youth pastor has been charged with endangering the welfare of a minor by Saratoga County sheriff’s deputies following allegations involving a teenaged female.

James Michael Taylor, 30, was arrested Tuesday and, according to a statement from the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Albany, placed on administrative leave immediately following his arraignment.

Taylor was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest of the Albany Diocese in 2012 and most recently served at Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Niskayuna, which also has an elementary school.

Details of the arrest were released at a Wednesday morning press conference conducted by Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy and county Sheriff Michael Zurlo.

Sheriff’s investigators say the victim was a 15-year-old Clifton Park girl whom Taylor met while serving as a deacon and leader of a youth ministry program at Corpus Christi Church in Round Lake.

It is alleged that between October 2013 and April 2014, Taylor engaged in an ongoing course of inappropriate conduct with the girl. He was charged with misdemeanor course-of-conduct since it was not, as it stands now, forced conduct.

Contact consisted of physical contact, telephone calls, text messaging and the sending of inappropriate photos, authorities said.

Murphy said Taylor used his position in the church to gain trust and access to the victim and her family, and warned that more victims and more severe charges for Taylor are possibilities.

“We also want the media to help us to the degree that we suspect that there may be other victims out there. While his name is James Michael Taylor, he went by Father Michael, which is how the public may know of him,” Murphy said, adding that he wants potential other victims to know they will be protected if they come forward.

Murphy said the girl’s parents contacted authorities Monday, triggering the investigation.

This story, Murphy said, could be used by parents as a springboard to talk about what is and isn’t appropriate.

“Be vigilant. Be inquisitive. If your kid tells you something that’s unusual or out of the ordinary, ask questions,” he advised.

Ken Goldfarb, the director of communications at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, said a letter was delivered Wednesday to parents of students at Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Parish Elementary School informing them of Taylor’s arrest.

Albany’s new bishop, Edward Scharfenberger, would not be making any further statements, aside from the press release the diocese, on the alleged incident until the matter is resolved in court.

According to an article on Taylor in the Evangelist, the newspaper of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, he grew up in the military town of Warner Robins, Ga., in a Protestant family. He first stepped foot in a Catholic church to research his role as a priest in a high school musical, the article states, but he went to another town to do so because Catholicism was “considered cultish in his hometown.”

“Catholics were so weird that I was just curious. I joke with people that my conversion was an intellectual exercise that got out of hand,” Taylor was quoted in the article.

Taylor, who is also a U.S. Army captain, attended Siena College, where he completed his pre-theology training, and studied at Mundelein Seminary at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Chicago. In the Evangelist article, it states that was the “year before news of the U.S. clergy sexual abuse scandal broke.”

“You learn that the frailties of the human condition exist even in the priesthood,” the future priest had said. “There’s something greater to Catholicism than its members. For some reason, I was able to see, ‘This [crisis] isn’t the faith,’” he is quoted as saying in the article.

The diocese released a statement Wednesday that said it “notified law enforcement authorities in Saratoga County Monday afternoon immediately after receiving a complaint concerning a Diocesan priest and his alleged contact with a minor.”

Taylor was arraigned before Justice James Hughes in Clifton Park Town Court and released on his own recognizance to return to Clifton Park Town Court at a later date. An order of protection was issued, barring Taylor from having any contact with the victim.

The investigation is ongoing, authorities emphasized.

Given the nature of the case and Taylor’s positions in the various communities, anyone with relevant information should call the sheriff’s office 518-885-6761.



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