Priest Abuse: Local Student Journalist's Story Helps Right a Wrong at St. Bonaventure
Democrat & Chronicle
July 9, 2020
ST. BONAVENTURE — St. Bonaventure University is pulling the name of a deceased priest off one of its buildings thanks to an article written by a Brockport High graduate and local television journalist.
Msgr. James Hopkins, the Catholic Diocese of Erie said in July 2018, was the subject of an abuse report in 1993, long after his 1957 death. His name was among those included in a grand jury’s report in August 2018 on sexual abuse in six Pennsylvania dioceses including Erie.
Hopkins attended seminary at St. Bonaventure in the late 1890s and received an honorary degree in 1950, the university said. He was pastor at St. Titus Church in Titusville, and the sex abuse allegations stemmed from his time there.
Hopkins Hall has been the name of the university’s administration building. The sign in front of the building has been removed and it will be known as the Administration Building until renaming discussions start at an undetermined time.
University President Dennis DePerro drafted a resolution to have Hopkins’ name removed from the building. The Board of Trustees approved the resolution at its annual summer meeting.
The 13-county Erie diocese added Hopkins in July 2018 to its list of “those credibly accused of actions that, in the diocese’s judgment, disqualify each person from working with children.”
“We didn’t realize that Hopkins was on a list of priests accused of sexual abuse, but when (a student newspaper reporter) inquired about it when he saw his name, I confirmed with the Diocese of Erie that Hopkins was on the list, and that he had more than one abuse claim,” Tom Missel, chief communications officer, said in a news release.
The university credited The Bona Venture reporter Sean Mickey for the discovery. Mickey, a Brockport High School graduate, now works part time as an assignment editor at WHAM 13.
“It’s reprehensible what’s been uncovered and heartbreaking for the families who’ve been victimized,” DePerro said. “It doesn’t matter that the abuses in this case might have happened a century ago. Anytime a story surfaces like this, anyone who’s been a victim of sexual abuse feels the pain.”