RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Two of the men named on a list of Catholic priests who have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse released by the Maryland Attorney General were previously part of the Richmond Diocese.
In April, the Maryland Attorney General released the findings of a four-year investigation into sexual abuse in the archdiocese of Baltimore. The investigation documented abuse of at least 600 children by 156 priests, deacons and other leaders within the Baltimore archdiocese between the 1940s and the early 2000s.
While 600 abuse victims were documented in the report, the actual number is believed to be much higher.
Of the names on the list, two were named with ties to Richmond. These men are:
- Father John Bostwick
- Father Henry (John) O’Toole
Father John Bostwick
Bostwick was accepted as a seminarian for the Diocese of Richmond after high school and was later assigned to Our Lady of Lourdes in Richmond in May 1969, where he served until 1972. He returned to Richmond in 1985 after suddenly leaving his teaching position at Mount Saint Mary College in Maryland.
In 1992, Bishop of Richmond Walter Sullivan learned that a psychological evaluation of Bostwick determined that he “loved little children,” but avoided older children, particularly teenagers.
In 1996, two men came forward and made allegations that Bostwick had abused them during the 1980’s. Both men had similar stories; Bostwick had reportedly gone to their homes, given them beer and touched their genitals. Both men were between 12 and 15 years old at the time. While one case of abuse happened in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the other occurred at Bostwick’s home in Virginia in 1987.
Bostwick was suspended by the Diocese of Richmond in 1996, and the diocese also marked him as “credibly accused” in a 2019 report.
Father Henry (John) O’Toole
In 1992, O’Toole was serving as a Chaplain at City Hospital with the Diocese of Richmond after leaving Baltimore eight years prior. The same year O’Toole was in Richmond, a woman reported that he had sexually abused her in the early 1970s when she was between 12 and 13 years old. While the then-girl was working in the rectory at Our Lady of Fatima in East Baltimore, O’Toole took interest in her and soon began to fondle her breasts when they were alone. The woman said that at one point, O’Toole threatened her with a letter opener if she reported the abuse to anyone.
O’Toole was listed as credibly accused by the Archdiocese in 2002 after the allegations against him were publicized in the Catholic Review. He admitted to “an indiscretion” and then retired to Florida.
More ties to Richmond
The report from Maryland also contained a list of priests and other church figureheads who served or lived in Baltimore at one point, but committed credible sexual abuse outside of the state of the Maryland. On this list, two men were named that were accused in the Diocese of Richmond.
- Francis Bourbon
- Jeffrey Burton
While it was listed that both men had sexual abuse allegations in Virginia, it is unclear if those allegations were specifically in Richmond or in another area.
What comes next?
Because many of the abuse allegations in the report go back decades, most of the crimes named will not be able to be prosecuted. However, more names of credible abusers in Baltimore could be released going forward, and a newly passed law in the state called the “Hidden Predator Act” will allow survivors to file civil lawsuits and receive compensation for abuse.
The Maryland Attorney General’s Office also plans to investigate the archdioceses of Washington D.C. and Wilmington.
You can read the entire, partially redacted report by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office below.