Ithaca College, Cornell priest accused of sexual abuse of a minor

By Katie Sullivan Borrelli
Ithaca Journal
March 3, 2019

Rev. Carsten Martensen, a Catholic chaplain, reads a prayer at Ithaca College's Muller Chapel during a time of reflection and remembrance of 9/11.
Photo by Matt Steecker

Hierald Osorto, director of religious and spiritual life at Ithaca College, speaks during a 9/11 remembrance event held at the Muller Chapel.
Photo by Matt Steecker

1999: Cornell University students study beside a statue of Andrew Dixon White outside Goldwin Smith Hall.

[with video]

A priest who served at Ithaca College and Cornell University has been accused of sexual abuse of a minor.

In an Intercom message sent out to the campus community, Hierald Osorto, Ithaca College's director of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, said the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester alerted the school it had received notice of an allegation against Rev. Carsten Martensen, who has served in campus ministry for both schools since 2007, for abuse that allegedly occurred in the 1970s.

Martensen has stepped down from all current assignments and public ministry, the diocese said, pending completion of an investigation by the USA Northeast Province of the Jesuits and future recommendations by its independent review board.

According to Cornell's Catholic community website, Martensen was ordained a priest in 1977. He has taught at a summer day camp in the South Bronx and at Fordham Prep School, where he has also served as chaplain.

"I know that those within our Catholic community as well as the wider Ithaca College community will find this news upsetting and difficult to process," Osorto said. "While the Diocese stated that it has never received an accusation against Father Carsten from his time in the Diocese of Rochester and that a full investigation is pending, this allegation is nonetheless deeply troubling to me, to President Collado, and to the college’s senior leaders, and we want to make sure above all else that our community receives the support that it needs."

Martensen's name is not included in a list of accused priests released by USA Northeast Province of the Jesuits in January.

Ithaca College planned to hold several opportunities throughout the week for extra office hours, reflection and access to the school's Center for Counseling and Psychological Services.

Osorto said Eileen Heptig, associate director of the Cornell Catholic Community, will assume administrative responsibilities for Ithaca College.

Students can access CAPS support services by calling 607-274-3136 and faculty and staff can access the counseling services of the Employee Assistance Program by calling 1-800-327-2255.


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