According to a press release from the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, a Catholic priest has been removed from the ministry during an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse.
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Father James Mickus serves as a pastor at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Chandler, Oklahoma, as well as Saint Louis Catholic Church in Stroud, according to KTUL. Archbishop Paul Coakley announced the priest’s removal on Sunday, November 4, 2018.
Archdiocese officials say the sexual abuse allegation against the priest does not stem from either of his current assignments. It is unclear where the abuse is alleged to have taken place. Father Mickus has served at least 15 assignments during his tenure in the Church, including:
The abuse allegation is currently undergoing internal review by the Archdiocesan Review Board, which was created in 2002 to review allegations of sexual abuse. In the wake of widespread sexual abuse allegations, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City has also hired an outside law firm, McAfee and Taft, to conduct a comprehensive review of Archdiocese documents. The attorneys will investigate abuse allegations going back to 1960.
Archbishop Coakley announced in August the Archdiocese’s plan to review and report all historical allegations of sexual abuse against Oklahoma priests. Church officials say their review, conducted by McAfee and Taft, will include all instances wherein credible sexual abuse allegations were reported, substantiated, prosecuted or admitted to by priests.
The Archdiocese’s communications director, Diane Clay, says the case of Father Mickus is the first on which the Archdiocese has taken action, KFOR reports. Law enforcement officials are not yet involved, Clay added.
This is not the first time Father James Mickus has found himself at the center of abuse allegations. Court records viewed by KFOR show that Mickus filed a defamation suit in 2002 against an accuser who claimed to have been sexually abused by the priest 20 years ago. Mickus was temporarily removed from his duties at Saint Francis Xavier in Enid over the allegation, but the case was dropped a year later after the Archdiocesan Review Board was unable to substantiate the accusation against him.
Across the country, Catholic dioceses are struggling to deal with an influx of sexual abuse reports. The Pennsylvania grand jury report released in August and detailing the sexual abuse committed by over 300 Catholic priests has opened the floodgates, inspiring hundreds of sexual abuse survivors to come forward.
The grand jury report in Pennsylvania listed the names of over 300 Catholic priests who had become the subject of credible sexual abuse allegations, documenting abuse committed as early as the 1950s. Perhaps even more important, however, were the report’s details on the breathtaking efforts that Pennsylvania Church leaders have undertaken to hide sexual abuse complaints and protect dangerous sexual predators.
Now, abuse survivors in Pennsylvania are suing the Diocese of Philadelphia in an attempt to have the Church open its secret archives and release hidden information on accused priests. Similar lawsuits have cropped up in California and Chicago, where one suit accuses every bishop in Illinois of participating in a civil conspiracy to conceal sexual abuse allegations from law enforcement authorities.
At the same time, Catholic dioceses around the nation have made overtures to greater transparency. In Vermont and Texas, Washington and Louisiana, dioceses have published their own lists of accused priests, hoping to get ahead of a growing sexual abuse scandal.