Episcopal bishop: Diocese ‘in the dark’ until April about its own priest’s inclusion in Catholic abuse report

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The Episcopal bishop of Maryland says officials of his diocese did not know until late April, and he did not know until early May, that a onetime Catholic seminarian who is now an Episcopal priest had been named in the Maryland attorney general’s report on child sexual abuse in the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore.

The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton said in an interview Thursday with The Baltimore Sun that the Rev. Thomas Hudson, the priest-in-charge at St. George Church in Allegany County, approached a diocesan staff member in late April with what Hudson called “a pastoral concern.”


His news: he had just been notified that his name was included in the 463-page attorney general report, though it was redacted in the public version released April 5. The staffer encouraged Hudson to share the matter with Sutton, the bishop said, and the two met in early May.

“He told me what it was about, and my gosh, I couldn’t believe it,” said Sutton. On May 12, the bishop told Hudson he had to go on leave.


Hudson, 75, who has not been charged with a crime, was suspended from his duties as priest and removed from all other diocesan assignments as of Sunday.

The Baltimore Sun identified Hudson on Wednesday as No. 150 on the “List of Abusers” in the attorney general’s report after searching Catholic directories and newspaper articles and comparing them to details in the redacted document.

Hudson declined to comment Thursday on the allegations in the report. “My attorney has instructed me not to speak with you,” he said.

Hudson was a teacher at a public high school and an active member of St. John Catholic Church in Frederick during the mid-1970s, according to the report and contemporary newspaper articles.

In 1976, he took a 15-year-old boy he met at the church on a camping trip to Sharpsburg. He gave the high school sophomore alcohol, according to the report, and when the boy became intoxicated, Hudson attempted to take the teen’s pants off. “Let me help you,” Hudson told the boy, according to the report. The boy pushed Hudson off and left.

The Baltimore Catholic archdiocese learned of the allegation in 2009 as part of its investigation into Father Thomas Bevan, who was pastor of St. John at the time, the report said. Bevan pleaded guilty to felony child abuse in Frederick County in 2010.

Hudson was ordained a priest in the Episcopal diocese in 2008 after attending an Episcopal seminary, and began serving in a succession of churches in Western Maryland. The diocese’s “rigorous” vetting process turned up “no red flags whatsoever” in Hudson’s background when he applied for work, Sutton said, and he has served the diocese “faithfully” as a well-regarded priest for 15 years.

Neither the Baltimore Catholic archdiocese nor the Maryland Attorney General’s Office informed the Episcopal diocese of the allegations against Hudson, Sutton said. Sutton said the diocese learned most of the details it knows from reading the article The Sun published Wednesday.


“We’ve basically been in the dark,” he said. “The only thing we knew to do was to get him out of the church.”

Hudson confided in Sutton in their conversations in recent weeks, the bishop said, that there had been an incident of some kind and that he underwent counseling and therapy and got married shortly thereafter. Sutton said there have been “zero” concerns about his performance in the Episcopal church.

”Maybe we’re not all one thing, but people can actually turn things around,” Sutton said.

Christian Kendzierski, a spokesman for the Catholic archdiocese, declined to talk about Hudson. He noted “the Episcopal Church and the archdiocese are not related and are different organizations with no connection.”

Hudson wrote a letter to St. George parishioners that the church shared Monday on its Facebook page.

“I imagine you may want to know and say more, but I ask you to respect my need for privacy to address the things that are weighing on my heart and mind,” he wrote. He asked people to pray for him and his wife.


The Catholic archdiocese, specifically Archbishop William Lori, has repeatedly said the abusers whose names were redacted are not in active ministry. Catholic archdiocese spokesman Christian Kendzierski declined Wednesday to answer questions about Hudson, but he wrote in an email that Lori’s previous statements applied only to Catholic ministry.

Sutton said he was taken aback at what Hudson told him in early May, but had few details. Hudson, he said, informed him that he would be bringing his lawyer — and was told to bring no one else — to a meeting in Baltimore Circuit Court on May 12, where he would be allowed to read the unredacted section dealing with the alleged incident.

Because he knew the situation involved no criminal charges, and because he didn’t consider Hudson an active threat of any kind, Sutton said decided to wait until after the May 12 meeting to make any final recommendations on the matter. After that meeting, though, when Hudson told the bishop his attorney had advised him not to share much information, Sutton decided it was time to act.

”I told him, ‘Tom, you’re going to have to go on leave until we see something more or learn more about what this is,’” Sutton said.

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Because Hudson had a wedding to attend in Baltimore that weekend, Sutton said, the priest would be away from his Mount Savage parish on May 14. So Sutton directed Hudson to announce in church the following Sunday that he’d be going on leave for health reasons and to say “nothing else.”

During Sunday’s service Hudson addressed his leave, drawing a comparison to when Jesus told his disciples at the Last Supper that he would have to leave them for a while, but would return.


“I think that was a hope on his part,” Sutton said, saying the leave would last at least a few months so that the diocese will have sufficient time to learn more before making “a major life decision.”

One reason the situation qualified as a health concern, as well as a family matter, Sutton said, is that Hudson and his relatives would be dealing with trauma of the allegations from “many, many years ago” becoming public.

When a Catholic priest decides to become an Episcopal priest, as an increasing number have done over the past decade, Sutton said, he must follow a process that takes years to complete. It’s at that point that Episcopalians “make sure we have substantiation from the Roman Catholic church that they’re not a problem.” Sutton said that Hudson’s situation probably fell through the cracks because he was a seminarian, not a priest, and was a lay person when he made the transition.

The Episcopal diocese has learned that Hudson left the Catholic Church after the allegations were made, though Episcopal officials are still trying to ascertain whether the separation was voluntary, Sutton added.

Sutton said he hopes to have learned enough about the situation to make a decision on Hudson’s future by sometime in July.