Bronx Bishop, a Neighborhood Mainstay, Steps Aside after "Credible" Allegations He Sexually Abused Teenage Boy in 1980s

By John Annese
New York Daily News
October 29, 2018

Bishop John Jenik is accused of sexually abusing a minor in the 1980s. (Simone Weichselbaum)

A Bronx bishop — known as a tireless crusader against drug dealers who’d walk the streets in a bulletproof vest — has stepped down from his post after a “credible and substantiated” allegation of his sexual abuse of a child, the Archdiocese of New York announced Wednesday.

Bishop John Jenik, the longtime pastor of Our Lady of Refuge, has “stepped aside from public ministry and has moved out of his parish,” Timothy Cardinal Dolan wrote in a letter posted on the Archdiocese website.

The 74-year-old Jenik is accused of sexually abusing a teenage parishioner in the early 1980s, after befriending the boy when he was 13 years old, the accuser told The New York Times. Michael Meenan, now 52, said he and Jenik met through confession, and the priest started taking him to dinner and to movies, and giving him booze, The Times reported.

Meehan said the priest abused him during one of many overnight stays at a house in Tivoli, N.Y. Meehan told The Times Jenik got into bed with him and started rubbing him over the blankets.

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The accusation was the first ever made against Jenik.

Although the alleged incidents occurred decades ago, the Lay Review Board has concluded “the evidence is sufficient to find the allegation credible and substantiated,” Dolan wrote in a letter to Our Lady of Refuge parishioners this week.

The Lay Review Board is an independent team of judges, lawyers and experts that reviews sexual abuse allegations for the Archdiocese.

“Although Bishop Jenik continues to deny the allegation, loyal priest that he is, he has stepped aside from public ministry, and, as we await Rome’s review, may not function or present himself as a bishop or priest,” Dolan said.

The Vatican will investigate the allegations, Dolan said.

Jenik denied the allegations in a letter to parishioners, asking them to “please pray for the person who brought this allegation against me, and for all those who are victim-survivors of abuse.”

Jenik has served at Our Lady of Refuge since 1978, and was named an auxiliary bishop by Pope Francis in 2014. He was a mainstay in the Bedford-Fordham area, where he worked against drug dealers in the neighborhood.

“I’ve had shots fired through my window,” Jenik told the Daily News in 2014. “There’s always this danger, but you just have to go out there and do it.”

The announcement comes nearly two months after state Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced a statewide probe of pedophile priests. Earlier this year, a Pennsylvania grand jury released a report that detailed how hundreds of priests — including some with ties to New York — abused and terrorized more than 1,000 children for decades while the church turned a blind eye.

Under current law, victims only have until age 23 to file civil cases or seek criminal charges for most types of child sexual abuse. Some of the most serious child sex crimes that occurred in 2001 or later have no time limit on criminal charges.








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