2018 | Bethesda Beat

Jesuit Report Shines New Light on Clergy Sex-Abuse Cases

Five priests who served at Georgetown Prep named by church

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Five priests who served at Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda as far back as 1927 have been listed in a new church report that names 25 Jesuits who have been accused of sexual abuse.

Following years of charges, admissions of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and millions of dollars of church settlements paid nationwide, the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus has been reviewing personnel records of priests and on Monday published the names and assignments of church leaders who have been charged with crimes or have “credible allegations” of abuse.

In a letter accompanying the report, the Rev. Robert M. Hussey, the Maryland Jesuit leader, wrote, “We hope that this disclosure of names will contribute to reconciliation and healing” and reaffirmed the church’s “strict zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual abuse.”

The Towson-based province includes eight states and Washington, D.C.

Four of the five priests or members of the order who worked at Georgetown Prep have died, according to the report.

The fifth, the Rev. Garrett D. Orr, spent five years at the all-boys school from 1989 to 2004, and left the order in 2008, three years after he was removed from the ministry, according to the report.

In 2011, Orr pleaded guilty to two counts of a fourth-degree sex offense in Montgomery County Circuit Court and was given a one-year sentence behind bars, with most of the jail time suspended, and also was ordered to serve five years of unsupervised probation and register as a sex offender, according to court records and published reports.

The four others who worked at Georgetown Prep and had what the province said was a credible allegation or established offense were Francis C. Bourbon, at the North Bethesda school from 1968 to 1969; Arthur J. Long, serving from 1950 to 1952; William Wehrle, 1944 to 1945; and John F.X. Bellwoar, 1927 to 1928.

None of the allegations leveled against the four occurred while they were at Georgetown Prep, according to a letter published online Monday from the Rev. James R. Van Dyke, the school’s president.

Van Dyke wrote in Orr’s case, “an allegation stemming from a Fall 2002 incident was made against Orr in Fall 2003,” and was investigated by police and the Maryland Jesuits. The church in 2006 found the claim to be “substantially true” and police later reopened an investigation after learning of another allegation of abuse against Orr from the late 1980s.

“Since the recognition of systematic cases of abuse in the period of the 1990s into the early 2000s and the inauguration of the ‘Dallas Charter’ in 2002, Prep and all Jesuit apostolates have rigorously sought to create safe environments and effective protocols to protect from sexual abuse and from unwanted advances not only young people and vulnerable adults but indeed all whom we serve,” Van Dyke wrote.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops established the charter, a framework of procedures for dealing with allegations of abuse of minors, in 2002.

“We are deeply sorry for the harm we have caused to victims and their families,” Hussey wrote. “We also apologize for participating in the harm that abuse has done to our Church, a Church that we love and that preaches God’s care for all, especially the most vulnerable among us.”