Decades-old allegation forces priest’s retirement

Decades-old allegation forces priest’s retirement

An accusation of sexual abuse from the mid-1980s has led to the retirement of Father John Bohrer as administrator of Saint Teresa of Calcutta Parish, Collingswood.

The incident dates to the time when the priest was assigned to Saint Pius X Parish in Cherry Hill. It was reported to the Diocese of Camden in October 2002. The accuser, then a 35-year-old man, did not seek a settlement but counseling, which the diocese provided.

Shortly thereafter, Father Bohrer was removed from ministry and the allegation was investigated by the diocese, and subsequently reviewed by the Vatican. It was also referred to law enforcement, although the statute of limitations had expired.

Although the allegation was deemed credible, it was determined that it did not warrant permanent removal from the priesthood.

Father Bohrer returned to ministry in 2008 as a nursing home resident chaplain, and then parochial vicar.

In February 2011, he was asked to take on the role of administrator of Saint Teresa of Calcutta.

There have been no other accusations against him. The old accusation came to light during an independent review of personnel files as the diocese is preparing to release the names of all credibly accused priests in the diocese.

In keeping with the criteria of United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Charter for the Protection of Young People and the diocese’s zero tolerance policy, Father Bohrer resigned his position and was removed from ministry, effective Dec. 31, 2018.

A statement on the diocesan website, www.camdendiocese.org, explains the circumstances of Father Bohrer’s retirement and encourages anyone who has suffered abuse to report it to law enforcement authorities:

“If an individual is hesitant for any reason, the diocese maintains a toll-free number (1-800-964-6588) to facilitate reporting. This number can be found on the diocesan website and also is available to victims who wish to arrange for professional counseling.

“The diocese remains committed to providing safe environments in our parishes, schools and ministries. We provide safe environment training to all of the children in our schools and religious education programs. This training enables them to recognize what constitutes physical and sexual abuse, and empowers them to report that to a caring adult. We also provide training to all adults — priests, religious and laity — who are in regular contact with children to recognize warning signs of abuse, and to provide them with the knowledge of when and how to report to the appropriate authorities. The diocese also requires all priests, clergy and laity who have regular contact with children to have passed criminal history background checks.”

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