Pastor Denies Charges

Baltimore Archdiocese Removes Monsignor Over 1970s Sex-abuse Claim

August 24, 2009|By Matthew Hay Brown | Matthew Hay Brown,matthew.brown@baltsun.com

The Archdiocese of Baltimore has removed the pastor of a Cumberland church as it investigates allegations that he sexually abused a minor in the 1970s, the archdiocese announced Sunday.

Monsignor Thomas Bevan, pastor of St. Patrick Church since 1997, has denied the allegations, according to the archdiocese.

Representatives of the archdiocese met with parishioners and staff at St. Patrick on Sunday to inform them of the allegations and to answer questions, according to the archdiocese. Counseling assistance has been offered to all those affected, according to the archdiocese.

The individual alleging the abuse says it occurred on a number of separate occasions in the mid-1970s while he was a student at the parish school of St. John Catholic Church in Frederick, according to the archdiocese. Bevan was assigned to St. John from 1974 to 1979.

The archdiocese said it learned of the allegations in June, and immediately reported them to civil authorities in Frederick County, who instructed the archdiocese not to take any further action, including continuing its own investigation or making contact with Bevan.

The archdiocese said it received permission from the authorities Tuesday to resume its investigation, and representatives of the archdiocese met with Bevan on Wednesday. Bevan denied the allegation, according to the archdiocese. However, he was removed from ministry, and his faculties to function as a priest were revoked, pending an archdiocesan investigation.

This is the second time Bevan has been the target of abuse charges, according to the archdiocese.

In 2005, the archdiocese said, it received an allegation of child sexual abuse against Bevan that dates to 1974. The archdiocese said it reported the allegations to the Frederick County state's attorney and conducted its own investigation into the claim. The archdiocese determined that there was not sufficient evidence at the time to remove him.

The archdiocese's independent review board, which reviews the church's handling of child sexual abuse allegations, affirmed its handling of the 2005 allegation and the civil authorities in Frederick County did not pursue the matter, according to the archdiocese.

Sean Caine, spokesman for the archdiocese, said Sunday that the two cases are not related but that "there are some similarities."

Because of those similarities, the archdiocese is interested in talking with anyone who might have information about the 2005 charges who didn't come forward at the time.

If that happened, Caine said, "we would certainly reopen it." But Caine added that "there are some similarities that might help us look at the [2005] case in a different light."

Thomas Bevan was ordained in 1963. In addition to his assignments at St. Patrick in Cumberland and St. John in Frederick, he was associate pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Middle River from 1963 to 1974 and pastor of St. Mark in Fallston from 1979 to 1991.

While at Mount Carmel, he taught at the parish high school; while at St. John, he taught at Mount St. Mary's. He also has been executive director of the Secretariat for Priestly Life & Ministry for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (now the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops), and has worked in the archdiocese's Office of Clergy Education.

The archdiocese is asking anyone with information relevant to the allegations against Bevan to contact its Office of Child and Youth Protection at 410-547-5599.

Baltimore Sun reporter Don Markus contributed to this article.

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