Affidavit Alleges Abuse by Former Arkansas Priest

By Youssef Rddad, Kat Stromquist
Arkansas Democrat
May 17, 2019

Diocese of Little Rock. - Photo by Gavin Lesnick

A former Arkansas priest is accused of molesting at least one boy in the 1980s while serving as dean of a Catholic school in Subiaco, with accusations coming to light through court records filed this week in Texas alleging abuse by clergy members.

Authorities say the Rev. Jeremy Myers sexually assaulted a boy several times in Arkansas and Texas while he was dean of the students' dorm at Subiaco Academy, according to an affidavit supporting a search warrant. The document states the abuse started in 1986 at the all-boys school in Logan County -- two years after Myers' ordination as a priest -- and continued when the boy visited the priest in Texas.

None of the church members in the document was criminally charged, but the filing explicitly describes allegations of sexual misconduct.

Myers is one of five clergy members under investigation as part of an investigation into alleged abuse within the Dallas Diocese. Police on Wednesday searched the church's offices and storage buildings in the Dallas metro area, and church officials have said they are cooperating with the investigations.

The document alleges numerous instances in which Myers performed sex acts with the boy in Subiaco and then later in Texas.

Subiaco Academy headmaster David Wright said in a statement Thursday that the school and Subiaco Abbey "are aware of, and have cooperated with, the investigation of Jeremy Myers. Because this investigation is ongoing, and to avoid any possible interference with it, we cannot comment further at this time."

Wright encouraged staff members and students to report any abuse, and said the school and abbey have "a duty to work to bring the truth to light."

Subiaco Abbot Leonard Wangler, who was headmaster at Subiaco Academy at the time, reportedly told Myers to speak to his alleged victim about the claims when they surfaced, an affidavit said.

Students at the school reported concerns about Myers' relationship with the boy after a witness saw the boy sitting on the priest's lap wearing only a towel, records show.

Myers reported back to Wangler that the victim said he was lying about any sexual contact, according to the document.

"I said to Abbot Wangler he basically had Myers investigate his own sexual allegation claim, to which Wangler had no response," Dallas detective David Clark wrote in court documents.

In a telephone interview Thursday, Wangler said he did not recall that exchange but he did not dispute the veracity of the account.

Records show Myers moved to Texas about 25 years ago, and his latest assignment was at St. Mary's Parish in Sherman, Texas, officials said.

The student he's accused of assaulting told investigators the abuse continued when he lived with Myers in Dallas after he was kicked out of the school his sophomore year, authorities said.

The filing also said a review of the pastor's files within the church showed at least one other person contacted the Dallas Diocese alleging sexual abuse, but it didn't say where it happened.

A phone number listed in Myers' name wasn't answered Thursday.

The priest is not listed as one of 21 accused clergy members who served in Arkansas that the Diocese of Little Rock named over the past several months.

Dennis Lee, chancellor for administrative affairs for the Diocese of Little Rock, said the church had learned of the allegations against Myers on Sept. 11, 2018 -- a day after it released its first list of "credibly accused" priests who served in Arkansas at one time.

Lee said the church immediately notified the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline and the Diocese of Dallas, where Myers was serving.

Lee said Myers was not added to the Arkansas list, which was updated in February, because the Little Rock Diocese was not told by the Dallas Diocese that allegations against Myers were considered "credible," a standard that has been used by dioceses that comes from the church members admitting to abuse or through a diocesan investigation. At one time, Myers was under investigation, he said.

However, Myers has appeared on the Dallas Diocese list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse since at least early February, an archived version of the online database shows.

Asked whether Myers would be added to the Arkansas list of accused priests, Lee said the local diocese would abide by its own policy after confirming the details with Texas church officials.

"We were doing what we were supposed to do. It was reported to the child abuse hotline," he said. "At that point, you leave it up to law enforcement to investigate."

He did not know whether any other dioceses had been notified of similar allegations by the Diocese of Little Rock.

David Clohessy, former national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has been critical of the release of names of accused priests by dioceses, saying the lists tend to be incomplete.

"In virtually every case, with just the slightest amount of research, we find other names -- sometimes a handful, sometimes a dozen -- that were deliberately omitted, usually for [a] laughably hair-splitting, self-serving reason," he said in an earlier interview.

Clark, the Dallas police detective, wrote that the five men whose reported abuse is detailed in the documents committed felonies, including sexual assault of children.

He said Thursday that none of the church members named have been arrested or charged.

"All those guys are under investigation at this time," Clark said.

A spokesman for the Dallas County prosecutor said the office hasn't reviewed the warrant and its allegations.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said her office plans to work with law enforcement agencies "to seek and ensure justice for victims," though no criminal charges have been filed.

"The allegations against Father Myers are very serious and disturbing regarding not only sexual abuse but also abuse of his position as a trusted authority figure," Rutledge said Thursday in a statement to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The results of an outside law firm's review into sexual abuse allegations at Subiaco, similar to one recently completed at the Diocese of Little Rock, have been expected since at least February.

"Our lawyers are holding that up until all this stuff that's going on now is finished, so it's as accurate as possible," Wangler said.

Last week, Pope Francis issued new guidelines for church officials addressing sexual abuse cases, though those rules stopped short of mandating reporting to law enforcement, reports said.

Metro on 05/17/2019

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