Northeast Times

Retired priest accused of molestation

The arch­diocese re­ceived one sexu­al mis­con­duct al­leg­a­tion against the Rev. James J. Collins, who re­tired from Holy Fam­ily Uni­versity earli­er this year.

A 74-year-old priest was put on ad­min­is­trat­ive leave fol­low­ing an al­leg­a­tion he mo­les­ted a minor more than 40 years ago, Phil­adelphia’s Ro­man Cath­ol­ic arch­diocese an­nounced Sunday.

In a news re­lease, Arch­bish­op Charles J. Chaput said the arch­diocese re­ceived one sexu­al mis­con­duct al­leg­a­tion against the Rev. James J. Collins, who re­tired from Holy Fam­ily Uni­versity earli­er this year.

The news re­lease didn’t say where or ex­actly when the al­leged ab­use took place, but said his leave is not con­nec­ted to the cases of priests placed on ad­min­is­trat­ive leave fol­low­ing the Feb­ru­ary 2011 Grand Jury Re­port. Ken­neth Gav­in, the arch­diocese’s dir­ect­or of com­mu­nic­a­tions, said the al­leg­a­tion of ab­use was re­ceived earli­er this month and im­me­di­ately re­por­ted to au­thor­it­ies.

“Con­sist­ent with policy and in the in­terest of fair­ness and pri­vacy to the per­son mak­ing the al­leg­a­tion and the ac­cused in­di­vidu­al, I am not able to provide more spe­cif­ic in­form­a­tion about the al­leg­a­tion it­self,” Gav­in stated in an email to the North­east Times on Tues­day. 

While on ad­min­is­trat­ive leave, Collins is not per­mit­ted to ex­er­cise his pub­lic min­istry pending the out­come of an in­vest­ig­a­tion, the arch­diocese stated.

Be­fore re­tir­ing, Collins was a full-time mem­ber of Holy Fam­ily’s Re­li­gious Stud­ies De­part­ment, the uni­versity stated Tues­day. 

“His ser­vice to the uni­versity in­cluded mod­er­at­ing an hon­or so­ci­ety for Cath­ol­ic col­leges and uni­versit­ies. He is a renowned ex­pert on Itali­an poet Dante Aligh­ieri,” Holy Fam­ily stated in an email. “His ser­vice to Holy Fam­ily pred­ates Pres­id­ent Sis­ter Francesca On­ley’s ten­ure. There were nev­er any al­leg­a­tions of ab­use made or com­plaints filed against Fath­er James J. Collins at any time in the 32 years she has been pres­id­ent.”

Pa­rish­ion­ers of St. Martha par­ish, where Collins had been resid­ing, were in­formed of the arch­bish­op’s de­cision. The arch­diocese said Collins resided at the Academy Road par­ish, but he had no form­al du­ties there, did not as­sist at Masses or make vis­its to the school. The arch­diocese also in­formed Holy Fam­ily Uni­versity, where Collins had been on the fac­ulty since 1976. 

Ac­cord­ing to the arch­diocese, Collins was or­dained in 1964. He served in sev­er­al par­ishes and schools, in­clud­ing Ro­man Cath­ol­ic High School, Car­din­al Dougherty High School and St. Chris­toph­er par­ish in Somer­ton. 

The Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s of­fice was in­formed of the al­leg­a­tion against Collins, spokes­wo­man Tasha Jamer­son con­firmed Tues­day morn­ing.

“The Arch­diocese no­ti­fied us of the charges,” Jamer­son wrote in an email, “but since this was 40 years ago, the stat­ute of lim­its has run out and crim­in­ally we can’t pro­sec­ute.” ••

Re­port­er John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or jloftus@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

comments powered by Disqus