Seton Hall University has begun an investigation into potential sexual abuse at two seminaries it hosts following misconduct allegations against ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and other priests.
In a letter posted to the university’s website Wednesday, President Mary Meehan referred to the recent accusations against McCarrick, who served as Archbishop of Newark from the mid-1980s until the early 2000s. The Vatican removed McCarrick from public ministry in June after it determined allegations he molested a teenager more than 40 years earlier were credible.
The allegations against McCarrick and other priests at the Newark archdiocese “may have involved seminarians at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology and the College Seminary at Saint Andrew’s Hall,” Meehan wrote.
Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, “is aware of and approves of the decision” to open the probe, Newark archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness said in an email Thursday.
After McCarrick’s removal, the Newark archdiocese said it was aware of three, decades-old allegations against him involving sexual misconduct with adults, two of which resulted in legal settlements.
In a statement at the time of his removal, McCarrick denied the teen’s abuse allegations. Last month, a Virginia man came forward and said McCarrick abused him over a span of two decades beginning when he was about 11. McCarrick hasn’t responded publicly to those allegations.
After Newark, McCarrick served as archbishop of Washington, D.C., until 2006 and had significant involvement in the church’s ongoing response to allegations of priest abuse.
Seton Hall has hired the Newark-based law firm Gibbons PC to oversee the probe. Meehan’s letter initially mentioned that New York-based attorney Theodore Wells, known for his work representing numerous high-profile public officials, would perform the review. But a university spokeswoman said Thursday that Wells had a conflict and another law firm would be commissioned.
Seton Hall, located in South Orange, New Jersey, about 12 miles west of New York City, is one of the country’s oldest diocesan universities. It has about 6,000 undergraduate students.