Sbu to Consider Renaming Building after Claim of Sexual Abuse
By Sean Mickey
March 12, 2020
St. Bonaventure University is considering renaming its administrative building, Hopkins Hall, after learning of a credible claim of sexual abuse.
The university was unaware of the claim until its connection was uncovered by The Bona Venture.
Msgr. James F. Hopkins is listed in the Diocese of Erie public disclosure list, which was last updated on April 5, 2019.
The list names individuals credibly accused of actions that “disqualify that person from working with children.”
According to a grand jury report about sexual abuse within the Pennsylvania Catholic Church, Hopkins is accused of molesting a 13-year-old girl in 1945.
The abuse happened while Hopkins was a pastor at a church in Titusville,
The victim wrote a letter to Bishop Trautman of the Diocese of Erie in 1993, according to the report. She stated that Hopkins would, “grab our face in his hands, force us to look up, and then plant a sloppy kiss on our mouths. He would also grab us and pull us close, wrap his cape around us, and fondle us wherever he pleased.”
The report states the victims concerns were ignored when reporting on Hopkins’ behavior. In 1994, Trautman wrote to the victim that “Since Monsignor Hopkins died in July of 1957, there is no possible way to investigate your accusation.”
Dr. Dennis Deperro, president of St. Bonaventure University, says the university has verified Hopkins is on the list and that he will “need to look very seriously at this issue and how it might impact the naming of the university’s administration building.”
“I will consult with members of my senior executive management team and hope to have a recommendation to present to our board of trustees soon,” DePerro said in a statement.
Hopkins Hall, constructed in 1964, houses administrative offices, including those of the university president and provost. The student records and financial services center is also located inside the building.
Hopkins entered the seminary of the Franciscan Fathers at Saint Bonaventure in 1897. He was later ordained in 1900 by the Most Reverend James Quigley, bishop of Buffalo, according to the university archives.
Hopkins was not a Franciscan friar, so he was not under the purview of the Holy Name Province, according to the St. Bonaventure University Office of Marketing and Communications.
The Bona Venture previously reported on claims of abuse involving four individuals connected to the university in 2019.
The BV is working to get more details on this story, and will update this story as additional information becomes available.