Priest Who Killed Himself Accused of Abusing Boy

Associated Press
August 30, 1993

BRADSHAW, Md. — Two days before he killed himself, a parish priest was confronted with allegations that he improperly touched a boy a decade earlier.

The Rev. Thomas W. Smith denied that allegation, but had earlier confessed molesting several boys at another church in the 1960s, Archbishop William H. Keeler told a meeting of 500 parishioners Sunday at St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church.

Smith, 68, was placed on administrative leave and agreed to undergo a psychological evaluation. He had been scheduled to leave the parish Aug. 22, but the night before he shot himself in the head with a shotgun.

He left a note saying he was despondent over the death of his mother in December.

The archbishop's revelation Sunday stunned parishioners.

"I can't possibly in my wildest dreams think of anything like that, knowing the man as I did. There's just no way," said Edwin Sofsky, an usher at the Baltimore County church for 20 years.

"The only word that would describe him is priest," he said. "He was a full, complete priest. Everything the Catholic Church values as a priest, he was it."

The archbishop said Smith had previously admitted sexually abusing several boys at St. Michael the Archangel parish in Overlea. The archdiocese learned of the abuse in 1988 when a man accused the priest of abusing him when he was a youth.

"Father Smith was immediately presented with the allegation and admitted that he had improperly touched a number of boys in the early 1960s, but Father Smith assured us no incidents had occurred in more than 20 years," Keeler told the parishioners.


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