NY--Bronx priest admits abuse

For immediate release: Monday, Jan. 5

Statement by Mary Caplan of New York City leader of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (917 439 4187, [email protected])

For two full weeks, Catholic officials in New York and Milwaukee have hidden an admission by a priest who worked at a Bronx school that he sexually assaulted kids. Shame on all of them. (See official church statement below.)

On Dec. 22, Fr. Robert Harrison told his Catholic supervisors that he had molested children. He was then suspended from his post at Hayes High School in the Bronx.  

But neither of Fr. Harrison’s supervisors – the Capuchins nor the New York Archdiocese – told the public. We hope they promptly told police. But there’s no excuse for them not telling parents, parishioners and the public immediately, especially since the pedophile priest admitted his crimes.

We suspect obviously selfish reasons for the two irresponsible weeks of secrecy. We suspect Catholic officials didn’t want to risk hurting holiday donations. We challenge the Capuchins and Cardinal Timothy Dolan to explain why Catholic officials once again chose to err on the side of secrecy and recklessness rather than the side of openness and safety.

We hope every single person who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Fr. Harrison or cover ups by his superiors will find the courage to speak up, get help, call police, expose wrongdoing, protect others and start healing.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact - David Clohessy, 314-566-9790, [email protected], Barbara Dorris 314-503-0003, [email protected], Barbara Blaine 312-399-4747, [email protected]

Statement Regarding Fr. Robert Harrison, OFM Cap.

5 January 2015

The Capuchin Province of St. Joseph reports that Fr. Robert Harrison, OFM Cap. Has been

removed from public ministry. On Monday, 22 December 2014, the Capuchin Province of St.

Joseph learned that Fr. Harrison had abused minors in Milwaukee WI, and New York NY.

To the province’s knowledge, that sexual abuse occurred during the 1970s and 1980s. The

province has not received any allegations from victims. The province learned this information

on 22 December 2014 during an investigation into Fr. Harrison’s finances. When confronted by

the province, Fr. Harrison then admitted to abuse of minors. Fr. Harrison informed the

province that, to the best of his knowledge, no one ever reported any of the abuse to the


During the June 2013 audit of the Capuchin files, Fr. Harrison’s files were reviewed by the

auditors. The auditors reported no evidence that suggested that Fr. Harrison may have been

involved with the abuse of minors.

Immediately upon receiving the information on 22 December 2014, Fr. Harrison was removed

as teacher and basketball coach from Cardinal Hayes High School, The Bronx NY. He is barred

from public ministry as required under the terms of the United States Conference of Catholic

Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. He is currently at a professional

facility where he cannot have any contact with minors.

Per Capuchin Province of St. Joseph policy, the abuse was reported to the district attorney

offices in Manhattan NY, The Bronx NY and Milwaukee WI. The province will continue to

work cooperatively with civil authorities in this matter.

We are deeply saddened and sorry for what has occurred. The province is committed to

helping those who have been harmed by Fr. Harrison. We will be reaching out to all of the

ministries where Fr. Harrison served.

The Capuchin Province of St. Joseph is dedicated to creating a safe environment for everyone

in our ministries. The province’s misconduct policies and procedures can be accessed with the

following link: http://www.sjpcommunications.org/pastoral-care-conciliation.

We ask that you keep everyone involved in this matter in your prayers.

The abuse of any child is a crime and a sin. We know that there have been times when children

and youth entrusted to our care have been harmed; for that we are deeply sorry. While we

cannot undo the harm that was done in the past, we are committed to doing what we can to

prevent any future harm and to assisting those who have been hurt by a Capuchin Friar.

If you have concerns or are in need of assistance, please contact the Capuchin Province of St.

Joseph’s director of Pastoral Care and Conciliation, Amy Peterson, (414) 374-8841, Ext. 22.

Other inquiries should be directed to Capuchin Province of St. Joseph’s Public Relations

office, Colleen Crane, (414) 254-2808.


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