Ousted Columbus priest arrested: Sex-crime allegations surface in Canada

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Saturday, August 7, 2010  02:51 AM

By Meredith Heagney

The Rev. Phillip Jacobs

The Rev. Phillip Jacobs

A Catholic priest removed from ministry in Columbus in 1993 for molesting a teenage boy has been charged with sex crimes against children in British Columbia.

The Rev. Phillip Jacobs, 60, was arrested Wednesday night at the Victoria airport after arriving on a flight from San Francisco.

The Saanich Police Department is not releasing information about the number of alleged victims, their gender or the number of offenses while the investigation is pending, said Sgt. Dean Jantzen, the public-information officer. Saanich is a municipality outside Victoria.

“The concern for our investigators is there are other victims out there,” and police don’t want to discourage them from coming forward, Jantzen said. He said he could describe the number of those who already have come forward only as “numerous.”

Jacobs is charged with sexual assault, sexual exploitation and sexual interference, which refers to sexual touching.

He was in custody yesterday awaiting a court appearance.

Those accusing Jacobs are young people he knew through his position as parish priest at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Saanich, which he held from 1998 to 2002, police said.

He got that job despite having been removed from ministry in Columbus by then-Bishop James A. Griffin. Griffin told the Roman Catholic Diocese of Victoria about Jacobs’ past, Deacon Tom Berg Jr., vice chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Columbus, said yesterday.

The Victoria diocese said in an e-mail that “under today’s standards, Father (Jacobs) would not have been hired.” Bishop Richard Gagnon apologized for “this situation and the impact on all those affected” and said that counseling is being provided to anyone who was harmed.

Since 1993, the Columbus diocese has received about 10 credible reports of abuse at the hands of Jacobs, Berg said.

The first report, in 1993, was what caused Griffin to remove Jacobs from ministry, Berg said. According to Dispatch archives, the victim was a teenage boy and, at the request of his family, the molestation was not reported to authorities.

Eventually, Griffin informed police of all accusations against Jacobs, Berg said. No charges were ever brought, possibly because the time limit for filing them had expired, said Berg, who joined the diocese in 1995.

Griffin told T he Dispatch in 2002 that he chose not to reassign Jacobs in the Columbus diocese even though he received what Griffin described as “a clean bill of health” after therapy.

The Times Colonist, which covers Victoria and Vancouver Island, reported that Jacobs resigned from the Saanich church after parishioners learned that he had been fired from the Columbus diocese.

Jacobs, a Columbus native, was ordained in 1975 and served as associate pastor at St. Anthony Parish, 1300 Urban Dr. in Columbus, until 1979 and at St. Phillip the Apostle Church, 1573 Elaine Rd. in Columbus, from 1979 to 1981.

From 1981 to 1986, he studied philosophy at Boston College, and after that, he taught philosophy at the Pontifical College Josephinum until 1993.

He also was a priest in residence at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Westerville from 1986 to 1989.


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