Baltimore Archdiocese must expand 'accused' list
Statement by David Clohessy of SNAP (314-566-9790)
We belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Our mission is to protect the vulnerable, heal the wounded, expose the truth and deter future wrongdoing.
We’re here to warn parents, parishioners, police, prosecutors and the public about two potentially dangerous men, both connected to – or formerly connected to – the Catholic church in Maryland and DC.
The first is an admitted predator priest who now lives in Washington DC, was in Baltimore as recently as 2003, and held a church leadership post just a few years ago. He’s supposedly been “permanently removed from ministry,” according to a news report and a New York-based Catholic order known as the Marists. (See 10/19/93 Baltimore Sun)
In 1995, Atlanta Catholic officials announced that Fr. Philip S. Gage had been removed two years earlier from his post at the Marist School because of allegations that he molested a 17 year old student there in 1989. Later, church staff learned of another possible victim who was 18 at the time of the alleged abuse. They reportedly sent 7,000 letters to alums about the abuse report, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news3/1995_05_19_White_SchoolReveals_Philip_Gage_1.htm
Fr. Gage was then sent to a church facility in Maryland. Last year, his name was put on the Wheeling WV diocesan website as a “credibly accused” molester. (From 1979-81, he worked in Wheeling, WV.)
According to the Marist website, in 2017, he was a member of the Council of the Province and was pictured with other top Marist officials, including Fr. William Rowland, who is the current president of Marist School and a member of the same council. Fr. Rowland was also working at the Marist School when Fr. Gage’s abuse surfaced.
Fr. Gage’s photo – and other information about him – is at BishopAccountability.org. He was ordained in 1969 and may have also been in Atlanta around 2009.
The Marists can be reached at 718-480-1306, MaristUSACommunications@gmail.com.
The second is a former seminarian, criminally charged in Baltimore County for abuse in 1995. The Baltimore Sun reported at the time that he “had been working for the Baltimorearchdiocese.” He is Brian Kieth Olkowski.
As best we can tell, both of these men are still alive. For the safety of kids and the healing of victims, we want Archbishop William Lori to add these two to his ‘credibly accused’ list.
We are also disclosing information today about several more ‘credibly accused’ abusive priests who were/are in Maryland but are NOT on the Baltimore archdiocesan list of such clerics. Some were left off because parts of eastern Maryland technically belong to the Delaware diocese, not the Maryland archdiocese. For the safety of kids and the healing of victims, we want Lori to list every credibly accused cleric who was in Maryland, regardless of which church entity supervised them.
(He’s already done this with religious order clerics, as he should. Some of those abusers are on the archdiocesan “accused’ list, even though they’re technically supervised most directly by someone else. So it should pose no problem for Lori to list credibly accused abusers who were or are in Maryland but were or are technically supervised most directly by church officials in Delaware or Washington DC.)
It’s time to stop splitting hairs and making excuses and parsing words and instead, do all we can to protect kids.
Some of these omissions leave us wondering how many other proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics are or were in Maryland and are still being hidden by church officials. (Lori’s list, for example, includes no monks, seminarians or nuns, which we believe is an egregious omission.)
The new names are: Fr. Wayland Brown (St. Rose of Lima in Gaithersburg), Fr. Francis A. Benham (Lincoln MD), Fr. Arthur J. O'Brien (St. Pius parish in Bowie) and Fr. Eugene F. Clarahan (Perryville, Denton, Ridgely, Rising Sun and Port Deposit, all in Maryland).
We want Lori to add these clerics – and others - to his ‘accused’ list even though they may technically be a part of a nearby diocese. When victims are able to deal with their abuse, decades later, many will recall the name of their predator and/or their diocese, but will be unaware which diocese they were in. So they’ll look for lists of pedophile priests in theMaryland archdiocese, not the Delaware diocese, since they live/lived in Maryland
We want Lori to take two further steps.
The Baltimore archdiocese was once a “trailblazer,” disclosing predator priests long before other Catholic institutions ever did (back in 2002). Now, we want the archdiocese to again take the lead by:
-----insisting that every religious order working in Maryland also list their predator priests on their websites. This is especially important because 30% of all US priests belong to these religious orders (like Jesuits, Marianists, Franciscans, etc) and because the umbrella organization over these hundreds of orders is in Maryland. (It’s the Conference of Major Superiors of Men in Greenbelt, 301 588 4030, firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Many bishops have reluctantly and partially listed credibly accused clerics, only a handful of religious orders have. (More than 20 orders work in the Baltimore archdiocese. https://www.archbalt.org/clergy-personnel-division/communities-of-religious-men/)
Jefferson City MO Bishop Shawn McKnight has made this commitment. SNAP wants Lori to do the same.
------permanently and prominently posting on parish websites (not just the archdiocesan site) the names, photos, whereabouts and work histories of all church child molesters (bishops, monks, seminarians, nuns, priests and lay employees like parochial school teachers and coaches). The Philadelphia archdiocese does this (see below).
Finally, on the secular side, we’re also pushing Maryland lawmakers to eliminate or extend the state's archaic, predator-friendly child safety laws like the statute of limitations and especially to create a multi-year civil 'window' that would enable victims to expose those who commit and conceal heinous violence against kids. Maryland is ranked in the lower 20% of states, according to one source, based on its abuse statutes (ahead of Mississippi and Alabama). http://sol-reform.com/
We want Lori to renounce the “backwards” step taken last year on child sex abuse in Maryland in what was one of the sneakiest moves ever made by Catholic officials. We also want Lori to work with – not against – a coalition representing victims to provide a five year ‘civil window.”