Catholic Diocese of Richmond

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Catholic Diocese of Richmond Begins Review into Allegations Against Inactive Jesuit Priest

For Immediate Release: January 25, 2021

(RICHMOND, Va.) – The Catholic Diocese of Richmond has begun a review into allegations of child sexual abuse made against a Jesuit priest, Thomas P. McDonnell, S.J., during his time in the Diocese of Richmond at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Henrico County. Father McDonnell served at that parish between 1996-2003. Father McDonnell denies the allegations. According to the provincial for the USA East Province of Jesuits, Father McDonnell, 83, is not currently serving in ministry and has not been in public ministry since October 2020, which is prior to the time the allegation was received.

The diocese has not reached any conclusions regarding these allegations. Rather, this statement serves to announce the beginning of its inquiry into the allegations. Until this inquiry concludes, the accused is given a presumption of innocence unless the preponderance of evidence from the investigation would indicate otherwise. The diocese has also notified the civil authorities.

The diocese takes allegations of child sexual abuse very seriously, and Bishop Knestout acknowledges the great courage it takes for individuals to come forward to report allegations of this nature.

Very Rev. Joseph M. O’Keefe, provincial of the USA East Province of the Jesuits, has prohibited Father McDonnell from any public ministry while the allegations are being reviewed. As part of the Church inquiry into the allegations, the Diocesan Review Board will make recommendations to Bishop Knestout. Based upon its findings, the Diocesan Review Board’s recommendations will assist Bishop Knestout with an appropriate response to the allegations. Then, Bishop Knestout will make a final determination and advise the provincial of the same.
Any questions related to Father McDonnell’s other assignments should be directed to the USA East Province of Jesuits’ director of communications at mgabriele@jesuits.org.

Individuals who have been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious, lay employee or volunteer of the diocese should report abuse directly to law enforcement, including Child Protective Services (CPS) at 1-800-552-7096, and by calling the Attorney General’s Clergy Abuse Hotline at 1-833-454-9064.

Individuals are also encouraged to contact the 24-hour confidential Victim’s Assistance Reporting number at 1-877-887-9603 or email vac@richmonddiocese.org to report sexual abuse.

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