Vatican defrocks priest accused of abuse

By Jeanne Starmack


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Father Thomas Crum

A Catholic priest who was accused of sexual abuse while he taught at Cardinal Mooney High School has been defrocked.

Thomas Crum, who served in the Diocese of Youngstown from 1975 to 2009, was removed from the priesthood about two weeks ago, said Monsignor Robert Siffrin, vicar general of the diocese. He did not have the exact date.

Monsignor Siffrin said that after an abuse allegation surfaced in May 2009 while Crum was pastor at Our Lady of Peace Church in Canton, the diocese removed him from active duty and asked him to consider requesting removal from the priesthood, which he did.

The diocese sent the request to the Vatican, Monsignor Siffrin said, and after review, a decree from Pope Benedict XVI came back and was presented to Crum.

The person who first came forward about abuse at Cardinal Mooney in 1975 and 1976 was soon joined by two others who said they also were abused. The victims’ identities were kept confidential.

Judy Jones, Midwest associate director of the group Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said two of the Cardinal Mooney victims have contacted her.

SNAP sent out a prepared statement saying that it worries about where Crum is and if anyone is making sure he’s being kept away from children.

“To defrock a priest means nothing to us,” said Jones, whose group urges victims to call police, not church officials.

“He needs to be in jail,” she continued, but said she realizes there’s a statute of limitations involved. That statute is the reason Crum was never prosecuted criminally.

Crum, 61, is not living in the diocese, is all Monsignor Siffrin would say. He said, though, that the church notified civil authorities in the county where Crum lives.

“One of the things we do, when a priest is accused and it’s credible, we always tell local civil authorities,” he said.

Monsignor Siffrin also said that notices, to be posted, were sent to every place Crum was assigned in the diocese.

In the Youngstown area, Crum was assigned to Cardinal Mooney from 1975-77; St. James Church in Warren and St. John the Baptist Church in Campbell, 1977-79; St. Christine Church in Youngstown, 1979-85; Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Youngstown, 1991-92; and St. Charles Borromeo Church in Boardman, 1997-99.

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