19 Priests in Richmond Were Accused/ in 52 Years, 24 People Made Allegations of Sex Abuse, Diocese Says

Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)
February 28, 2004

Nineteen priests in the Catholic Diocese of Richmond were accused of child sexual abuse between 1950 and 2002, according to a diocesan report.

The allegations were made by 24 people, said the Rev. Pat Apuzzo, diocese spokesman. He said the diocese spent about $360,000 on counseling, legal fees and money given to victims.

The accused priests - 15 were diocesan priests and four were from religious orders serving in the diocese - represent 4.5 percent of the 420 diocesan and religious-order priests who served in the diocese during the period, Apuzzo said.

The Richmond diocese collected the statistics as part of a survey conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The survey was called for by the National Review Board established in 2002 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The review board, which oversees the handling of sexual-abuse cases, released the results of the survey yesterday. The national report did not include statistics from individual dioceses.

Officials from the Diocese of Arlington, which was formed from the Richmond diocese in 1974, teamed with Richmond diocesan officials to be sure the number of abusers and victims reported by each were not duplicated, Apuzzo said.

"The human pain that all this data represents can't be compressed into figures or shown on charts," Apuzzo said. "The heartbreak is always there. . . . It compels us, with a sobering and gripping plea, not to let the horrors we've uncovered repeat themselves ever again."

The Richmond diocese priests who are still living and whose names have been made public are:

*The Rev. John P. Blankenship of Richmond, who was forced to retire from priestly ministry. He pleaded guilty in Prince George County Circuit Court to four counts of sodomy involving a juvenile.

*The Rev. Julian Goodman of Charlottesville, who was forced to retire from priestly ministry.

*The Rev. John E. Leonard of Henrico County, who resigned from priestly duties after pleading guilty in Goochland County Circuit Court to misdemeanor assault charges against two teenage boys. A civil lawsuit against him is pending in Virginia Beach Circuit Court.

*The Rev. Steven R. Rule of Roanoke, who was reinstated after the diocesan Sexual Abuse Review Board decided his behavior did not warrant removal from priestly ministry.

*The Rev. Eugene Teslovic of Virginia Beach, who was forced to retire from priestly ministry.


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