Priest Accused of Molestations Now at British Columbia Parish

By Dennis M. Mahoney
Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)
April 27, 2002

A priest dismissed by Columbus' bishop for molesting a teen-age boy is serving as pastor of a church in British Columbia.

The Rev. Phillip Jacobs, a Columbus native, was guilty of "improper sexual touching of a person who was still a minor," James A. Griffin, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus, said yesterday.

When he found out about the incident in the mid-1990s, Griffin said, he removed Jacobs from serving at the Pontifical College Josephinum, the Far North Side seminary where he was vice rector in the College of Liberal Arts, and required him to enter therapy. He would not say where.

Tom Berg, diocesan spokesman, said that at the request of the victim's family, the molestation was not reported to authorities.

Later, Jacobs was accepted to the Diocese of Victoria in British Columbia, and today he is pastor at St. Joseph the Worker Church in Victoria.

He was not at the church yesterday and could not be reached for comment. Victoria Bishop Raymond Roussin was out of town and unavailable to comment.

Additionally, two other local men -- including a cousin of Jacobs' -- say they were molested by Jacobs in the late 1970s.

Gahanna resident Doug Jacobs, now 39, said that he was molested at a family cottage in 1976, two years after Jacobs was ordained.

Doug Jacobs said he never told anyone about the incident until 1996, when he reported it to his parish priest and to the diocese.

Tim Kreider, 35, of Westerville said he was molested by Phillip Jacobs several times in 1978 and '79 while Jacobs was an associate pastor at St. Philip the Apostle Church on the East Side. He, too, said the incidents occurred at the Jacobs family cottage.

Griffin said there was more than one complaint about the Rev. Jacobs.

"As far as I remember, there were a couple of complaints and some other, I would say, reports of conduct that people thought were . . . unbecoming or imprudent on the part of a priest," he said.

The mid-'90s report was the one complaint Griffin said he could verify and on which he based his removal of Phillip Jacobs. He said he did not know the exact age of the victim.

Parishioners at St. Joseph the Worker were shocked and incredulous yesterday when told of the allegations against their priest.

"It's unbelievable," said church volunteer Leo Van Dyk, who has known Jacobs since he joined the church in the late '90s.

"I'm not going to dispute what happened back there, but it sure doesn't show here. I don't think you will find one person who will say anything adverse about him."

In addition to teaching at the Josephinum from 1985 to '94, Jacobs helped with Masses on weekends at parishes, including St. Paul Church in Westerville.

Jacobs received "a clean bill of health after the therapy, that a therapist thought he was not a danger," Griffin said. "But I chose not to reassign him to the diocese."

He said Jacobs found a position in British Columbia, applied for it and was accepted. The priest's records were sent to the Victoria Diocese, Griffin said.

Bishop Blase Cupic, Josephinum rector at the time and now bishop in Rapid City, S.D., said Griffin told him in the mid-'90s that he was removing Jacobs so he could "go away for some assistance." He knows no details about the removal, he said.

Cupic said he never received any complaints about Jacobs, whom he called "a wonderful teacher."

Monsignor Michael Lapierre, chancellor of the Victoria Diocese, said Jacobs went there partly to work at the Center for the Study of Religion and Science at the University of Victoria.

Jacobs was accepted by then- Bishop Remi Deroo, said Lapierre, who added that Deroo and the diocesan personnel committee would have thoroughly reviewed the priest's record.

Doug Jacobs, a first cousin of Phillip Jacobs, said he was 14 when the priest molested him.

He said his cousin invited him to spend a summer weekend playing golf in Granville and spending time at the cottage, at Buckeye Lake in Licking County. The cottage was owned by the priest's family, Doug Jacobs said.

He said only the two of them were at the cottage. During the night, Doug Jacobs said, his cousin came into his bedroom and molested him.

He said his cousin told him never to reveal what happened, saying: "They'll never believe you. I'm a priest."

Doug Jacobs said he never told any relatives about the incident and that his relationship with his cousin was cold from then on.

"I believe it was because of the humiliation. There also was a sense of guilt on my part, thinking that even though I was only 14 and naive, I should have known better."

In 1996, he said, he began having nightmares about his cousin.

He went to his parish priest at Church of the Resurrection in New Albany and told him the story, he said. The priest arranged for him to meet with the diocesan vicar at the time, Monsignor Joseph Hendricks.

Doug Jacobs said Hendricks told him that the diocese had had "numerous" complaints about Phillip Jacobs. He said Hendricks told him that the Rev. Jacobs had been in treatment at a Connecticut facility and that he would not be returning to the diocese.

Doug Jacobs, married with three young children, said the diocese paid for his therapy with a Northwest Side psychiatrist for more than a year.

Ironically, he said, his cousin officiated at his wedding in 1992. He allowed it, he said, because his family expected it.

Doug Jacobs said he doesn't understand how his cousin still can be allowed to work as a priest.

"The fact that he's standing up there as a representative of the church of Jesus Christ, and yet he's got this dark side . . . How can you let an immoral man preach morality?"

Kreider, who is married and has two children, said Phillip Jacobs was very popular at St. Philip the Apostle and used to invite parish members to his family's cottage. Kreider attended the parish school.

On four or five occasions, he said, the priest invited him to go to the cottage overnight. During those times, the priest molested him, he said.

He never told anyone, he said.

"There's shame involved," Kreider said. "And, God, my parents were in love with the guy."

After he left St. Philip, he said, he occasionally encountered Jacobs during high school and college. There were no further incidents, he said.

Jacobs officiated at his wedding in 1990.

"I figured that's what people would expect," he said. "And I guess I hadn't really come to terms with the idea that I was molested."

In '93, Kreider said, he saw news coverage about a priest involved in abuse and decided to tell his story to the diocese.

He said he met with Hendricks and Paul D. Ritter, the diocese's attorney. Shortly after, he said, he received a letter from the diocese, stating that Jacobs had admitted molesting him, and a letter of apology from the priest.

Kreider said he did not want the incidents reported to authorities.

Hendricks, now pastor of St. Brigid of Kildare Church in Dublin, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

Kreider said he has been in contact with officials in the Victoria Diocese and that they were "emphatic that they didn't believe (Jacobs) was a danger."

He said he wants the diocese to do "the right thing" and bar Jacobs from serving in a parish.

Jim Beatty of The Vancouver Sun contributed to this story.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.