Former Head of Stepinac High School Faces Sex Abuse Charge: Cardinal Dolan
By Alfred Branch
December 18, 2015
Monsignor John O’Keefe, former head of Stepinac High School and the priest at St. Margaret of Antioch Church in Pearl River, has been accused of sex abuse of a minor -- 30 years ago.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan wrote the parishioners a letter Wednesday describing the charges and explaining the process.
He said the archdiocese received an allegation that on two occasions more than 30 years ago, O’Keefe had abused a minor. That allegation was shared with the Rockland and Bronx county district attorneys and forwarded to the district attorney in Virginia, where one of the incidents is alleged to have taken place. Their determination was that the allegations were credible, and so the archdiocese has put its policy into effect.
O’Keefe, 70, may not function as a priest until the matter is resolved; the whole matter is being reviewed by professionals and the lay advisory board; and he is in a supervised setting undergoing evaluation and risk assessment, the cardinal said.
O’Keefe spent 25 years in Catholic education in the Bronx and White Plains before being transferred to the Pearl River church in 2003.
He celebrated his 40th year in the priesthood in 2012. O’Keefe has a degree from St. John’s in counseling, a degree in school administration from Fordham and a Master’s Degree in Religion from the Seminary.
The allegation has not been substantiated and O’Keefe has denied it, the cardinal said.
“The protection of young people is one of our highest priorities, and the great strides made by the Catholic church throughout the country and around the world in dealing with this particular crime and sin have been noted by outside experts,” Dolan wrote.
He asked parishioners to keep O’Keefe, the person who brought the accusation, and all those affected, particularly victims/survivors of abuse, in their prayers.
He also asked anyone with concerns or suspicions about Monsignor O’Keefe to reach out to Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Parietti in the Rockland County DA’s office at 845-638-5001.