McQuaid Jesuit names former faculty members accused of abuse
Seven former faculty members of Brighton’s McQuaid Jesuit High School — six priests or former priests in the Society of Jesus religious order and one former Jesuit seminarian — have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors or vulnerable adults between 1961 and 1994, according to a Jan. 15 statement from the school.
The seven men are among 50 current or former Jesuits named that day by Father John Cecero, SJ, provincial of the society’s Northeast Province, as having been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults since 1950. As part of a process the Jesuits began in December 2018, the Northeast Province — comprising New York, northern New Jersey, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut — was the last of the society’s five United States provinces to release lists of Jesuits or former Jesuits facing credible sexual-abuse allegations.
McQuaid’s statement noted that incidences of alleged abuse occurred while at least one — and possibly three — of the seven was on the faculty at McQuaid, but the statement did not specify whether such abuse was alleged to have taken place at the school or to have involved any of its students.
Since McQuaid issued its statement, four people have contacted the Brighton Police Department with additional complaints against former McQuaid faculty members, including some not named in the school’s statement, according to BPD Chief Mark Henderson. Henderson told the Catholic Courier Feb. 1 that his department had completed incident reports for all of these complaints, which involved both Jesuit and lay faculty members, and concerned alleged incidents of sexual abuse as well as the use of corporal punishment in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
The school’s Jan. 15 statement said Leonard Riforgiato, a former Jesuit seminarian, worked at the all-boys’ high school from 1964-66. During that period, he is alleged to have committed an incident of abuse that was reported in 1969 and to which Riforgiato admitted. He left the Jesuit order in 1972 and died in 1999.
Alleged incidents of abuse may or may not have taken place during the McQuaid tenures of Robert Voelkle and Thomas Denny.
Voelkle, a former Jesuit priest, served at McQuaid from 1962-63, 1964-65 and again in 1968-69. The statement said that “incidents of abuse, judged credible, occurred between 1960 and 1980,” with the accusations against Voelkle having been reported in 1980. He left the Jesuits in 1985 and died in 2016.
Denny served at McQuaid from 1978-79. The statement noted that abuse allegations against him, judged credible, “in the 1960s and 1970s” were reported in 2002. Denny was removed from priestly ministry that same year.
Four more men were named in the statement for abuse that allegedly occurred after their tenures at McQuaid. According to the Northeast Province’s report, these men were serving outside the Rochester Diocese at the times of the alleged abuse.
According to McQuaid’s statement:
• Cornelius Carr served at McQuaid from 1960-64. Credible incidents of abuse allegedly occurred in the 1970s and 1989-90, and were reported in 2005. He died in 2013. A Dec. 17, 2018, statement from McQuaid noted that Carr served as principal during his time at the school.
• Roy Drake served at McQuaid from 1957-60. Credible incidents of abuse allegedly occurred in 1968 and 1973, with accusations reported in 2003. Drake was removed from priestly ministry that same year and died in 2008.
• John Farrand served at McQuaid from 1954-57. An incident of abuse — to which Farrand admitted — occurred and was reported in 1961. He died in 2003.
• William Scanlon served at McQuaid from 1964-67. Incidents of abuse occurred between 1985 and 1994, and accusations to which Scanlon admitted were reported in 1994. He was removed from ministry in 1994.
The statement did not specify who or what organization had received reports of abuse involving any of the seven people named in the statement. Of those seven men with ties to McQuaid, only Denny and Scanlon are still alive.
“Today is a very difficult day for the victims of sexual abuse and their families,” McQuaid’s current president, Father Robert Reiser, SJ, said in the school’s Jan. 15 statement. “We pray that some healing will come from sharing these names.”
Father Reiser added that “McQuaid has a zero-tolerance policy regarding incidents of inappropriate conduct with minors or vulnerable adults. If any abuse claim should ever be made by a student or non-student, we immediately report the incident to law enforcement and the Jesuits’ Northeast Province. Additionally, all McQuaid employees are mandated reporters, and are legally required to report any suspicion of child abuse or neglect to the relevant authorities.”