Franciscan T.O.R removed from chaplaincy at D.C. Veteran's home
For Immediate Release May 5, 2022)
On Friday,April 29, 2022, Fr. Benedict Jurchak, TOR, was removed from ministry by the Archdiocese of Washington, where he had been working as a chaplain in a veterans' retirement home. We are grateful to the Archdiocese of Washington for removing Fr. Jurchak and applaud the brave woman who courageously spoke out on social media.
According to the statement released by TOR, in 2019 Fr. Jurchak was temporarily removed from ministry when a single allegation of sexual misconduct involving an adult woman was reported to the Franciscans. In the following years, both the police and an independent lay investigator reviewed the claim and found that it could not be substantiated. A female lay canonist also conducted an investigation in accord with canon law and made the same finding, which was accepted by the Franciscans after consultation with a lay review board. The review board also accepted the recommendation of the canonist that some financial assistance be offered to the complainant, to assist with therapeutic costs. While the Franciscans disclosed all this to the Archdiocese of Washington prior to Fr. Jurchak's assignment there, "the recent public attention given once again to this single, unsubstantiated allegation has made it impossible, from the perspective of the Archdiocese, for him to continue to minister effectively there."
It is difficult for us to understand why any religious order or diocese would offer financial assistance for therapy if a claim was deemed "unsubstantiated." Moreover, the finding of the canon lawyer, made public by the survivor, does not seem to agree with what was written in the TOR statement. We wholeheartedly believe an additional investigation needs to happen. We support the woman who has come forward and we know that validation is key to the healing process.
We also urge the Franciscans to provide information about where Fr. Jurchak will be living and working.
It is crucial that other possible victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers be prodded to come forward so that the truth can be determined, people can be protected, and victims can heal. We encourage anyone with information to contact law enforcement with any information they may have or suspect regarding abuse by those in positions of authority. You can also report suspected abuse to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office by calling the clergy abuse hotline at 888-538-8541.