Two Philadelphia-area priests, the Rev. John F. Meyers and the Rev. Raymond W. Smart, have been found to be “not suitable for ministry" after church officials investigated claims that they had sexually abused a minor in the 1980s, the Philadelphia Archdiocese announced Sunday.
And a third priest, Msgr. Joseph L. Logrip, who had been cleared of sexual-abuse allegations in a high-profile investigation following a 2011 grand jury report, has been placed on administrative leave following a new claim that he, too, sexually abused a minor in the early 1980s. The archdiocese has referred that allegation to law enforcement.
The news comes six months after a damning Pennsylvania grand jury report found that Roman Catholic leaders in Pennsylvania had covered up decades of child sex abuse dating to the 1940s involving hundreds of priests and more than 1,000 victims. The U.S. Justice Department has launched its own investigation.
In Sunday’s announcement, the archdiocese provided few details but said it found evidence to substantiate allegations against Meyers and Smart and deemed both “not suitable for ministry.”
Meyers, 64, most recently served as interim rector at Malvern Retreat House. He had been placed on administrative leave in 2018 and had his “priestly faculties restricted” after the allegation surfaced that he sexually abused a minor in the early 1980s. It was the first such allegation made against Meyers.
Smart, 74, is retired and has been on health leave since 1995. Smart had twice been accused of inappropriate conduct, but an internal review board found no evidence in 2011 to substantiate claims that he had abused a minor.
However, in 2017, the review board did find evidence to substantiate claims that Smart had engaged in “misconduct" with an adult and subsequently restricted his access to church facilities. In 2019, the review board recommended Smart was unsuitable for his priestly duties because of a different, substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.
Logrip, now 73, was one of 26 priests placed on administrative leave in 2014 after the 2011 grand jury report. Out of the 26, 14 priests were found “unsuitable for ministry,” 11 were allowed to return, and one died before the investigation finished.
Logrip, however, was determined in 2014 to be suitable for ministry after a church investigation found the allegation of sexual abuse against a minor was unsubstantiated. After being cleared, Logrip served as a chaplain at Camilla Hall, a retirement home for nuns in Malvern. He also served since 2017 as a weekend assistant at Saint Peter Parish in West Brandywine Township, Chester County.
As a result of the recent allegation against him, the archdiocese also restricted his access to church facilities.
Generally, the Archdiocesan Office of Investigations, currently led by a former Philadelphia first assistant district attorney, opens its own investigation into an abuse allegation after law enforcement ends its investigation. Then, a 12-member board called the Archdiocesan Professional Responsibilities Review Board makes a recommendation to the archbishop regarding any priest under investigation. The archbishop can choose to accept or reject the recommendation.
In the cases of Smart and Meyers, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput accepted the board’s recommendations. Their cases will now be forwarded to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, following the internal investigation process, the archdiocese said.