Another New York priest finds himself in the middle of a controversy, the second in less then a week. Father Richard McCormick appeared in Salem Superior Court Friday, pleading not guilt to five counts of child rape.
McCormick, who now lives in New Rochelle, N.Y., was arrested Thursday by Ipswich Police on an indictment warrant for five counts of rape of a child WCVB reports. McCormick was held on $1,000 bond.
The alleged rapes occurred in1981 and 1982 at the Sacred Heart Retreat House summer camp for boys in Ipswich MA. The camp was run by McCormick. According to NECN.com, Assistant Distinct Attorney General Kate MacDougall told the judge the victim alleges McCormick would sometimes get him from his bed in the camp dorms. The victim told law enforcement officials the abuse only stopped when he would hide in the woods or under his older brother's bunk at night.
Boston.com says McCormick was the former provincial of the Salesian Brothers of Don Bosco for the eastern United States and Canada. The Salesians website states their missions is to "minister to young people through schools, parishes, youth centers, in a word, wherever young people can be found. It is our mission to be signs and bearers of God's love for the young. Don Bosco wanted us Salesians to use all of our energy and creativity to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to youth through Salesian Youth Ministry."
The NECN story reports Mitchell Garabedian, attorney for the victim in this case, as saying he has reached settlements in nine different abuse cases against McCormick between 1963 and 1982. The Tampa Bay Times also reports McCormick has been sued by nine people who said he sexually abused them as boys. The report also says "man known as "Father Mac" resigned from St. Pete Catholic in 2002, after a student complained that he greeted her with a hug and a kiss. She reported it the next day. This led to a school investigation, and a mutual decision for him to resign. He taught theology and English at the school."Newsday.com says Garabedian confirmed he represented three men who settled a case against the Salesian order in 2009. The suite claimed McCormick abused the three individuals when they were boys during the late 1970's. McCormick was the rector of the now-closed Salesian Junior Seminary in Goshen at the time.
Newsday.com also says prosecutors in the case requested $75,000 bail be imposed, saying that McCormick's "minimal ties" to Massachusetts make him a flight risk. Judge Timothy Feeley set out the following conditions before McCormick was released:
• Continue to live at the Provincial Residence of the Salesians in New Rochelle.
• Report to the Superior Court probation department by telephone once a week and in person for every court appearance.
• Have no unsupervised contact with minors.
• Stay off the grounds of Salesian High School, near the Provincial Residence.
Reverend Steve Dumais, current vice provincial for the Salesians order in New Rochelle, was ordered by the judge to serve as McCormick's custodian and ensure McCormick obeys the release conditions. Dumais agreed. After the hearing he is quoted by Boston.com as saying “Our whole reason is to work with young people, especially the poor. So these charges are very egregious. The reality of it is that it’s sad, certainly, that one of our own has been arrested and charged with a criminal complaint. We are doing our very best to support the work of the authorities the best we can.’’
The Salesians have already barred McCormick from engaging in any public ministry and he is not allowed to have any unsupervised contact with minors while at the Provincial Residence. He has not been defrocked because this is the first time McCormick has faced criminal charges regarding alleged sexual abuse according to Newsday.com.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests issued the following statement on their website Friday:
This is more proof that police and prosecutors are pursuing even older child sex crimes more aggressively. We applaud law enforcement for going after predators regardless of when their wrongdoing happened.
Let's hope everyone who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Rev. Richard McCormick or any Boston area cleric - will find the strength to step forward, get help, expose criminals, protect kids and start healing.