Diocese Settles Old Abuse Case
Accused Priest No Longer in Active Ministry, Church Says, but Gives Few Details

By Jeff Brumley
Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)
December 9, 2004

The Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine said it has resolved a sexual child-abuse case involving a priest who served in the diocese more than 30 years ago.

The case, which does not name the church or priest involved, is separate from one reported recently by the Times-Union. That report involved a now-deceased Irish priest, the Rev. Thomas McNamara, who is accused of inappropriately touching at least three adolescents during service at St. Patrick and Christ the King parishes in Jacksonville from 1966 to 1968.

In a statement e-mailed to the Times-Union on Wednesday, diocesan spokeswoman Kathleen Bagg-Morgan also said the diocese became aware in 2003 of other allegations involving a priest and more than one victim.

"Our diocesan Response Team has reviewed the allegations, ministered to the needs of the victims and the case has been resolved," Bagg-Morgan said. "The accused priest is no longer serving in active ministry."

Bagg-Morgan's e-mail provided no other details, such as whether the priest or the victims in the resolved case still reside locally, where the abuse occurred or what church the priest had served, the nature of the abuse, the gender or ages of the victims and what the resolution involved.

Nor did the diocese say if it had more recently become aware of or was addressing any other cases or allegations.

"The victims came to the diocese in confidence, therefore we are making no further comment," Bagg-Morgan said.

The diocese had been more forthcoming about the McNamara case after it was mentioned in a recent interview with Bishop Victor Galeone.

The diocese initially provided the name of the priest and the parishes where he served, the number of victims and a general description of their allegations. It would not say what the victims' ages were currently or at the time of the reported abuses and whether the incidents took place on church property.

Also, the diocese said it believed the victims' accounts and that it was still working with them to resolve the case.

The Times-Union later learned that McNamara had eventually returned to Ireland to commit further abuses. A bishop in Ireland confirmed that McNamara, who died in 1997, inappropriately touched several teenage boys during the 1970s and '80s after his return from Florida.

The Irish bishop, Willie Walsh, also said he was unaware of any accusations against McNamara pre-dating his service in Florida. He did say that the Diocese of St. Augustine, which represents 162,000 Catholics living in Duval and 16 other Northeast Florida counties, had contacted him about the Jacksonville allegations during the past summer.

Last summer, Walsh publicly apologized to the parishioners of the Irish parishes where McNamara had abused the children. He said the healing process there is slow but has begun.


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