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Name of abusive priest removed from St. Bonaventure University building

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Posted at 6:09 PM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 18:09:31-04

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. (WKBW) — St. Bonaventure University announced it has removed the name from the university's administration building after discovering it was named after a priest who was credibly accused of child sexual abuse.

Hopkins Hall, which houses university administrators and financial aid staff, was built in 1964 and named after Msgr. James F. Hopkins, a priest in Pennsylvania who died in 1957.

This spring, Sean Mickey, a reporter for The Bona Venture student newspaper, discovered last year's Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed an allegation that Hopkins abused a 13-year-old girl in 1945.

“We didn’t realize that Hopkins was on a list of priests accused of sexual abuse, but when Sean inquired about it when he saw his name, I confirmed with the Diocese of Erie that Hopkins was on the list, and that he had more than one abuse claim,” said Tom Missel, chief communications officer. “Kudos to Sean for bringing it to the university’s attention.”

University President Dr. Dennis DePerro introduced a resolution to remove Hopkins' name from the building and the resolution was approved at the university's summer board meeting.

“It’s reprehensible what’s been uncovered and heartbreaking for the families who’ve been victimized,” DePerro said. “It doesn’t matter that the abuses in this case might have happened a century ago. Anytime a story surfaces like this, anyone who’s been a victim of sexual abuse feels the pain.”

With the Hopkins name removed, the university says the building will be called the Administration Building. There may be a discussion on renaming the building in the future, but DePerro said it's not a high priority.

Hopkins, a priest in the Diocese of Erie, was labeled as one of the 41 "predator priests" in the Pennsylvania grand jury report. Officials say he attended seminary at St. Bonaventure in the late 1890s and received an honorary degree from the university in 1950.