The Archdiocese of Boston announced Tuesday that a Catholic priest has been removed from the ministry over allegations that he abused a child in 2007.
Christian Ohazulume pled not guilty to three counts of aggravated assault and battery on a child under the age of 14 in Quincy District Court. The court set bail at $5,000 cash, with the conditions that should he make bail, Ohazulume will not be allowed to travel outside of Massachusetts and will have no contact with the victim or her family. He is also barred from unsupervised contact with minors.
The Archdiocese of Boston received the allegation against Ohazalume on August 31st, and immediately informed law enforcement. The alleged abuse is said to have occurred in 2007, while Ohazalume was staying with a family upon his arrival in the United States from Nigeria.
Ohazulume had been working as a chaplain at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center since 2010. The hospital gave a statement to WGBH News, saying that he was immediately placed on unpaid leave when they became aware of the accusation, and was terminated shortly thereafter. The hospital spokesperson also noticed that BIDMC does not have a pediatric service.
“The Church has been in such denial of this problem, saying it’s a problem they had in the past, when its ongoing,” said David O’Regan, the Boston leader for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). He added that, when children are harmed, “you do the right thing — you don’t protect the abusers.”
Father Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and senior analyst for Religion News Service, says in this case, the Church did do the right thing.
“They did what was right — they reported it and cooperated with the police,” Reese said, noting that every diocese in the U.S. has been required since 2002 to report any allegations of abuse to the police.
“The survivors of abuse have every right to be skeptical of the Catholic Church,” he added. “They have the right to challenge the Bishops — to make sure that the bishops are doing what they promised to do.”
Pope Francis will meet Thursday with U.S. cardinals and bishops — including Cardinal Sean O’Malley — to discuss the recent investigation into ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was removed from his position in July after a credible accusation that he groped a teenager.