News7 News I Team


High-ranking Buffalo Jesuits revealed as abusive priests

Worked at Canisius high school and college
Posted: 10:19 AM, Jan 15, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-17 10:16:27-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — One was the president of Canisius High School.

Another a Canisius College counselor until the clergy abuse scandal of 2002.

A third supervised every Jesuit priest in the northeast United States.

The Jesuit religious order to which the men belonged admitted Tuesday that the high-ranking Buffalo priests also had “credible allegations” of sexual abuse of a minor “where there is a reasonable certainty that the accusation is true.”

Two of the men -- Rev. J. Peter Conroy and Rev. James Gould -- were previously named on the Diocese of Buffalo sexual abuse list released in November, but the others were named Tuesday for the first time.

Prior to the release of the list, the I-Team researched the history of the priests using Diocese of Buffalo directories, national Catholic directories and news clippings. The histories are below.

Rev. Vincent P. Mooney, S.J. (d. 1981)

Rev. Vincent P. Mooney allegedly raped and impregnated a young Buffalo woman in the late 1960s in his office at Canisius High School, as documented in a story published by the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team on Tuesday morning.

The woman still remembers the staircase leading to the Rev. Vincent P. Mooney’s office at Canisius High School.

She first climbed those stairs nearly 60 years ago when she was a young schoolgirl at the old Mount St. Joseph’s Academy.

“It was after my father’s death and I wasn’t handling it very well, and a nun at the school was sympathetic and she wanted to help me,” the woman said. “So she hooked me up with this Jesuit priest at Canisius High School.”

But Mooney was no ordinary priest. He was the Canisius president for most of the 1960s and 1970s and was a member of the well-known Jesuit religious order that runs Canisius high school and college.

His second-floor office where the 16-year-old poured her heart out doubled as a confessional, where after years of grooming, Fr. Mooney invited the young woman to confess her sins.

“He heard my confession, and as I got up from the kneeler and he came around from the other side, he attacked me,” she said. “He was over 6 feet tall, a large man, and I was only 5 foot 3 and completely shocked and not comprehending what was going on.”

Terrified, she says she escaped and burst down the stairs and into the parking lot, adjusting her skirt and blouse along the way.

“I felt him on top of me and I felt constricted and after everything was over, I just got up and I ran -- I just ran,” she said. “I was catching a bus at the corner to go home, and I was just in agony, wondering, ‘Why? Why?’”

The woman is now 75, lives in Hamburg and asked that her name be withheld because her family does not know the details of her story. 7 Eyewitness News does not identify sex crime victims without their permission.

“I never told anyone,” she said. “You just didn’t discuss things like that.”

But the sexual assault was only the beginning of the woman’s nightmare -- and she was not the only person to make allegations of sexual abuse against the priest. Click here to read the rest of the story.

Rev. J. Peter Conroy, S.J.

Rev. J. Peter Conroy taught at Canisius High School and Canisius College. He was removed from the college in 2002 after sexual misconduct allegations from decades earlier were reported to the Buffalo Diocese.

Conroy admitted to “inappropriate touching and groping” of two female relatives from 1972-76, when the girls were minors and Conroy was an ordained priest, according to Molly O’Hara Ewing and Colleen O’Hara Carney, the two relatives who made the allegations and spoke to the I-Team about them.

Carney, who lives in Rochester, said she was an eighth grader in the early 1970s while visiting Conroy at Fordham University, where the young priest was assigned.

“He came into the room and his hands were all over me,” Carney said.

It was not the first time Conroy placed his hands on the upper part of her legs inappropriately, she said.

“It was wrong,” she said. “It was inappropriate. It was creepy. [I thought], give me my space and stay away.”

Her parents found out soon after and put a stop to it, Ewing said in a phone interview with the I-Team from her home in Minnesota.

“My parents confronted him, he never denied it and said only that it happened with [us] and it never happened again,” Ewing said.

Years passed and they lost touch with Conroy, but in 2002 Carney took her daughter on a college visit to Canisius and realized Conroy was still in ministry there.

Conroy was also assigned to St. Ann’s Church in Buffalo and the women heard through another relative that he was seeking a more permanent appointment there, and “we felt that there should be a notification to those people, a transparency,” Ewing said.

The sisters notified the Buffalo Diocese in March 2002, when the sexual abuse scandal was breaking in Boston and other parts of the country. Conroy was promptly removed. Spokespeople for Canisius College confirmed the removal but referred all other questions to the Jesuits.

“As far as we’re concerned, the Buffalo Diocese handled this appropriately,” she added.

While Conroy was assigned to Fordham University in New York at the time of the alleged misconduct, he was assigned to Canisius High School and Canisius College before and after the allegations, according to diocesan directories and archives of the Buffalo Courier-Express newspaper.

Conroy taught at Canisius High School from 1965 to 1968, the Jesuits said, and showed up in the Buffalo Diocese again in 1981, when he was assigned to Canisius College as director of campus ministry. He stayed at Canisius just three years and did not return to Canisius until 1994, the Jesuits said.

In 1995, Conroy was reassigned to Canisius as the director of student development. The campus yearbook said Conroy was “very happy” to have returned to Canisius after “a brief hiatus” and he served there until 2002.

“We’re told by the USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus that the complaints against him were not connected to his employment here,” Canisius College spokeswoman Eileen Herbert wrote in an email.

The “hiatus” lasted from 1985 to 1994, directories show, when he was assigned to the Christ the King Retreat House in Syracuse. In a 1989 article in the Syracuse Post-Standard, Conroy described the house as a place for people to "get away, relax, take stock of their lives and renew their spiritual beliefs.”

Conroy remains a Jesuit priest and since 2002, Catholic directories list him Conroy as living in the Jogues Retreat Center in Cornwall, N.Y., south of Poughkeepsie. A man who answered the phone Jan. 8 at the retreat center said Conroy was “away until next Monday.” Conroy did not return a message from 7 Eyewitness News seeking comment for this story.

Conroy’s name was included in a secret black binder diocesan lawyers provided Bishop Malone in 2012 when he became Buffalo’s bishop. But the diocese did not publicly name Conroy until November 2018, when it included him on a list of priests “with substantiated claims of sexual abuse of a minor.”

Ewing, the victim, has found forgiveness for her cousin.

"He's not evil," Ewing said. "None of us are as bad as the worst thing we've ever done."

But Carney draws a harder line and wonder why, despite the allegations, the Jesuits have allowed him to remain a priest at the the Poughkeepsie retreat center to this day.

“It pulls at you,” she said. “He’s still addressed as Father Peter. It gives me the heebie jeebies.”

Rev. Cornelius J. Carr, S.J. (d. 2013)

Rev. Cornelius J. Carr was perhaps the highest-ranking Jesuit among those in Buffalo who stand accused of sexual abuse.

He taught at Canisius High School in 1952 and 1953, the Jesuits said, though Buffalo Diocese directories show he was assigned to Canisius College in 1965. In 1966, Carr was named provincial superior -- similar to a bishop -- of the Jesuits’ Buffalo Province.

Carr’s territory stretched from the Queen City east to Rochester, Albany, Syracuse and Ogdensburg. It also included islands in the South Pacific, according to a 1966 article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, and Carr oversaw 450 Jesuits throughout the province. He was a nephew of popular Buffalo priest Msgr. John C. Carr, newspaper archives show.

On Dec. 7, 2018, the Jesuits’ U.S. Central and Southern Province included Rev. Cornelius Carr on its list of Jesuits “with credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.” The province said Carr had “more than one” allegation made against him and the estimated time frame of the abuse was the 1970s and 1990s.

Carr was removed from ministry in 2005 “due to allegations” received by the New York province, the Jesuits said, but the only specifics that have been made public involve abuse that allegedly took place in New Orleans, La.

Carr served as principal of McQuaid Jesuit High School from 1960-64 and was assigned to Canisius High School from 1972-76 and again from 1984-1993, according to Buffalo Diocese directories. The Buffalo News first reported his connections to Canisius High on Jan. 19. He was listed in the 1985 Canisius yearbook as a “counselor.”

In the 1984 directory, he was assigned to St. Michael Church downtown, but that entry is listed as a “deletion” on a Jan. 30, 1984, correction. He is not listed in the directory as being assigned anyplace else in Buffalo that year. Canisius spokeswoman Ginger Geoffery declined to comment.

From 1977-80, Carr served at Jesuit High School in New Orleans, where one of the allegations stems from.

The Jesuits in 2012 paid $450,000 to a man -- Ricky Windmann -- who said he was molested by a maintenance man -- Peter Modica -- at the school when he was a teen, the New Orleans Advocate reported in September.

To the victim’s initial relief, Fr. Carr walked in on the assault.

A priest, Windmann thought, would surely put Modica in his place.

Instead, the priest walked over, put one hand on the middle of Windmann’s back and said, “Relax.”

Then Carr began masturbating as Modica continued to rape him, Windmann said.

From 1999 to 2001, the Jesuits said, Carr was back in Buffalo, assigned to St. Michael Church downtown.

Carr spent the end of his life in a nursing home on the Fordham University campus in New York City, the Fordham Ram newspaper reported. He died in 2013.

Rev. James Gould, S.J.

In November 2018, the Diocese of Buffalo included Gould on a list of priests “with substantiated claims of sexual abuse of a minor.”

The diocese gave no details about where the abuse occurred or what it entailed.

Gould was assigned to St. Ann’s Church in Buffalo -- run for decades by the Jesuits -- from 1975 to 1983, the Jesuits said.

In addition, church records obtained by the I-Team show the diocese has known about Gould’s alleged abuse since 2012, when the information was included in a secret “black binder” of allegations given to Bishop Richard J. Malone when he was named bishop.

An allegation against Gould also appeared on a June 2018 agenda of the diocesan review board, an oversight panel of lay and ordained Catholics appointed by the bishop. The allegations appears to be made by a male. Other documents suggest the alleged abuse occurred in the late 1970s.

The following other priests were listed Tuesday morning on the Jesuits' website:

Thomas Denny, S.J. -- Abuse of minors in 1960s-70s, "credible after investigation," the Jesuits said. Assigned to Canisius High School from 1993-95.

John L. Farrand, S.J. (d. 2003) -- Abuse of minors in 1961, "admitted," the Jesuits said. Assigned to Canisius High School from 1946-49.

Raymond Fullam, S.J. (d. 1987) -- Abuse of minors in 1954, 1965, "credible after investigation," the Jesuits said. Assigned to Canisius High School from 1953-58 and from 1972-76.

William Scanlon, S.J. -- Abuse of minors from 1985-94. Assigned to Canisius College from 1976-80.

"Hoping to contribute to healing from the pain and anger caused by clergy sex abuse and the lack of accountability and transparency on the part of church leadership, I am making public a list of any Jesuit in the USA Northeast Province who has had a credible allegation of abuse against a minor or vulnerable adult since 1950," Fr. John J. Cecero, S.J., provincial of the Northeast province, said in a statement. "On behalf of all of the Jesuits of the USA Northeast Province, I apologize for any of our brothers who have committed crimes of abuse and pledge to work to provide safe environments for all to whom we minister and to offer support and possibilities for healing to victims."

In response to Conroy and Scalon, Canisius College issued a prepared statement saying, "Canisius College had no knowledge of any instances of sex abuse in the past or at the time either Jesuit was employed at the college and had no report of any sex abuse during their time at the college after their departure."

Canisius High School issued a statement saying, "Although we are still deeply saddened about the serious nature of the incidents reported above, with the exception of Fr. Fullam, none of the incidents involved a Canisius High School student."

The complete document provided by the Jesuit order can be viewed below.