Dear Sisters and Brothers:
The Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus has posted the names of its members who have been, at some point, credibly accused of the sexual abuse of a minor.
Father Jeff Burton, S.J., worked as a chaplain at Stockton University and Atlantic Cape Community College from 1989 to 2006. He also worked at Holy Name Church in Camden, Holy Spirit Church in Atlantic City, St. Peter’s Church in Pleasantville, St. James Church in Ventnor, and Assumption Church in Pomona. In its statement, the Province reported that he had been removed from ministry in 2007, and that he died in 2011. The Diocese was not aware that, when he was sent here by the Province, there had been an accusation against him of unwanted touching in North Carolina in 1982. However, the Diocese of Camden has never received any report or allegation that he did anything untoward during his time here.
The Province also posted the name of Father John H. Duggan, S.J., who worked at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center from 1983 to 1984, and who died in 2004. As with Father Burton, the Diocese of Camden has never received any report or allegation that he did anything untoward during his time at the Medical Center, and the Diocese was not aware of any of the incidents of abuse which occurred from the 1950s to the 1980s in Pennsylvania and Maryland that appear in the information that the Province posted about him.
The Province reported, as well, that Father Michael Barber, S.J., who worked at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia from 1988 to 1994, pleaded guilty to a charge of harassment by offensive touching that occurred in Strathmere, Cape May County, and that he was removed from ministry in 1994. There is no indication that he was ever assigned to work in the Diocese of Camden. Aside from this recently-received report of the Strathmere incident, the Diocese of Camden has never received any report or allegation that he did anything untoward here. The Province reports that he is living in a restricted environment on a safety plan.
I write to ask that, if you were ever victimized by Father Burton, Father Duggan, or Father Barber, you would bring this to the attention of law enforcement authorities. If you wish, you may also contact the Jesuits’ Maryland Province at 8600 LaSalle Road, Suite 630, Towson Maryland 21286, or telephone their victim assistance coordinator at 443-370-6357.
Finally, and most importantly, I ask you to join with me in prayer for all of the survivors of abuse. This abuse saddens us all and rips at our souls – but we must always keep in prayer those who have survived abuse so that a merciful God will help them move forward with the hope that is manifested by Christmas.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Dennis J. Sullivan, D.D.
Bishop of Camden