NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A former president of a prestigious Catholic high school on Long Island has been suspended from practicing as a priest.
Father James Williams was the president of Chaminade High School in Mineola from 1999 until 2011, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
Now, the Marianist Order has suspended Williams from functioning as a priest after they said allegations that he abused a student are credible, according to a letter posted on the Chaminade website.
The school says Williams denied anything happened, but forwarded the information to the Nassau District Attorney’s Office.
A district attorney spokesman confirms they received a letter in February 2015 and says the alleged sex abuse happened in 2011 and involved a Chaminade student, age 18 or older, CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported.
The district attorney’s office described the act as a misdemeanor sexual abuse, but says the statute of limitations for such a crime expired in 2013. It also added that the alleged victim did not want to pursue criminal charges.
Former students were shocked by the allegations.
“It’s just devastating, absolutely devastating to the community and to the whole church as a whole it’s terrible.,” said Chaminade graduate Christopher Macias, who knows Father Williams. “He was a great guy when I was going here. I can’t say anything but speak highly of him. I’m just shocked and horrified about these allegations.
Father Williams was suspended Friday. He joined the school staff in 1991 and left Chaminade to study at the Vatican, which will decide if he will be permanently banned from the church.
He could not be reached for comment.
In a statement, Marianist Brother Thomas Cleary told TV-10/55 the decision to suspend Father Williams “reflects the solemn promise made to ensure the protection of the young men entrusted to the school remains its highest priority.”
Conybeare spoke with a current 16-year-old student who said he never heard any talk of sex abuse allegations by priests at Chaminade, but the district attorney’s office is asking any other potential victims to come forward.
Graduates of the elite all boys Catholic school include Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, former Nassau County executive Tom Suozzi, former U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato and current Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.