NJ School District Cannot Fire Former Priest Who Impregnated Young Girl
For immediate Release: April 29, 2019
We are absolutely appalled that an ex-clergyman who got a teen pregnant must be given back his job at a middle school. We call on state and Church officials to do all they can to stop this dangerous move.
Joseph Michael DeShan is on the list of “credibly accused” clerics published by Bridgeport Catholic officials. There appears to be no dispute that the former clergyman began a sexual relationship with a 14 or 15 year old girl in 1988, impregnating her the following year. The teacher took a leave of absence from the priesthood at that point and, in 1994, he was defrocked by the Vatican. Church officials have paid at least one settlement on the ex-clergyman’s behalf.
Still, despite all of this, Mr. DeShan will apparently head back to the classroom in Cinnaminson, New Jersey, soon. Why? Because an arbitrator ruled that school administrators who suspended him "provided no proof that he did anything wrong while he’s been employed in their schools."
This decision not only flies in the face of common sense, it may also endanger more innocent lives.
Catholic officials in both New Jersey and Connecticut, as well as school officials, should use every means available to seek out others who may have been hurt by the former priest, or who may have witnessed or suspected abuse, and encourage them to call police. With more information, it is possible that there may well be crimes for which Mr. DeShan could still be prosecuted. We hope that law enforcement officials in both states will to do likewise.
Finally, we beg New Jersey school and political officials to see what kind of administrative or legislative reforms must be made to prevent this kind of dangerous decision in the future.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)