An auxiliary Catholic bishop in New York, John Jenik, has been accused of sexual abuse and removed from his public ministry, Catholic officials said, the latest scandal to hit an institution already reeling from revelations of inappropriate behavior by its clergy around the globe.
“Although the alleged incidents occurred decades ago, the Lay Review Board has concluded that the evidence is sufficient to find the allegation credible and substantiated,” Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York, said in a statement on Wednesday.
The allegation involves an inappropriate relationship with a teenage boy in the 1980s, according to the accuser and his lawyer. Bishop Jenik, 74, denied the allegation, which will be investigated by the Vatican.
In an Oct. 29 letter to his parishioners, he wrote: “I continue to steadfastly deny that I have ever abused anyone at any time. Therefore I will ask the Vatican, which has ultimate jurisdiction over such cases to review the matter, with the hope of ultimately proving my innocence.”
The removal of Bishop Jenik from his public duties is a milestone in the widening abuse scandal in the United States. He is the first active bishop to be accused of abusing a minor in the wave of abuse allegations that began in June with the news that one of the nation’s top prelates, retired Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, had been accused of assaulting an altar boy in the 1970s.