Catholic priest removed amid allegations of sexual abuse

Ellicott City pastor accused of molesting two girls in 1960s

March 27, 2007|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,sun reporter

The Archdiocese of Baltimore has removed the pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church in Ellicott City from ministry after he admitted to sexually abusing two girls nearly 40 years ago.

The incidents took place while Monsignor Richard E. Smith served as a priest at the former Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Woodlawn from 1966 to 1967, according to a news release. That parish is now known as St. Gabriel.

One woman called the archdiocese March 16 after seeing a photograph of Smith in The Catholic Review, said archdiocese spokesman Sean Caine. She said she and Smith had one sexual encounter in 1966 or 1967 when she was 15. The woman also referred the archdiocese to another possible victim, who said Smith abused her during several months in 1967 while she was 15 or 16 years old, Caine said.

Smith, 67, confirmed some but not all of the claims Friday and was removed that day, Caine said.

Counseling has been offered to the victims and to members of Smith's former parish and its associated school.

Caine said the allegations were reported to the Baltimore County state's attorney's office. Assistant State's Attorney Jason League said the matter had been referred to the family crimes division of the Baltimore County Police Department. Any charges would depend on the outcome of that investigation, he said.

Archdiocesan officials met with Our Lady of Perpetual Help's congregation Sunday to tell them about the accusations.

The archdiocese will name an administrator to that parish as soon as possible, Caine wrote in an e-mail.

Smith came to the Woodlawn parish after he was ordained in 1966. He also served at the former St. Bernard parish near City College in 1967, St. Mary in Cumberland from 1968 to 1973, St. Mark in Fallston from 1973 to 1978 and St. Jane Frances de Chantal in Riviera Beach from 1978 to 1983.

From there he served at St. Clare in Essex from 1983 to 1987, Our Lady of Sorrows in southern Anne Arundel County from 1987 to 1996 and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Crofton in 1996 before moving to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ellicott City.

Anyone with information about child sexual abuse by Smith or anyone else is asked to call the Archdiocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection at 866-417-7469.

liz.kay@baltsun.com

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