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Father Ronald Belschner Has Been Credibly Accused of Sexual Abuse at Multiple Locations in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Were You or a Loved One Among His Victims?

Perpetrators

How Has the Recent Maryland Attorney General’s Report Exposed Abuse By Priests Like Father Ronald Belschner?

In 2018, the Maryland Attorney General’s office launched an investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy and other members of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. During the investigation, they uncovered over 145 abusers who served in some capacity within the Archdiocese over the past several decades. The resulting 2023 Report on Child Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore also identified a pattern of cover-ups by the Catholic Church in many of these cases, which often allowed the abusers to continue harming children without facing legal consequences.

One repeat abuser named in the AG’s report is Father Ronald Belschner. Church leadership allowed him to remain in a position of power despite numerous concerns and complaints about his inappropriate behaviors from parents, children, and others within the Maryland communities he served. The Archdiocese should be held accountable not only for their failure to protect victims from abusers like Father Belschner but for enabling and shielding him and other perpetrators. If you were sexually abused as a child by Belschner or another employee of the Catholic Church, our law firm can help you explore your legal options.

Where Did Father Belschner Serve?

Father Belschner had many assignments during his time in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Some of his reassignments were directly due to complaints from his parishioners and staff members, including concerns about his drinking habits, communication skills, and interactions with young men and teens in the community. His known assignments include:

  • Associate pastor, St. Mark’s, Catonsville, Maryland: 1965-1969
  • Part-time chaplain, Mount Saint Joseph School, Baltimore, Maryland: 1967-1969
  • Associate pastor, St. Gregory the Great, Baltimore, Maryland: 1969-1970
  • Pastor, St. Gregory the Great, Baltimore, Maryland: 1970-1976
  • Pastor, All Saints Church, Baltimore, Maryland: 1977-1980
  • Pastor, St. Joseph-on-Carrollton Manor, Buckeystown, Maryland: 1981-1989
  • Pastor, St. Ignatius, Urbana, Maryland: 1983-1985
  • Pastor, St. Mary’s Church, Cumberland, Maryland: 1989-1991

What Did the Archdiocese Know About Father Belschner’s Actions?

The reports which ultimately led the Archdiocese to list Father Belchner as “credibly accused” did not occur until 2017 and later. Around this time, two men came forward to accuse the priest of repeated sexual abuse when they were teens in the 1970s. One was a teenage runaway whom Father Belschner offered to help find housing. However, Belschner took advantage of the teen’s vulnerable position by taking him into his home and assaulting him multiple times.

While these particular reports did not surface until later, it is difficult to believe that the Church was not aware of his behaviors prior to these allegations. The AG’s report notes that the Archdiocese had received many communications and complaints from parishioners dating back to Belchner’s earliest assignments. The Archdiocese even investigated Belchner in 1990 after staffers and parishioners raised concerns about his relationship with a 19-year-old man. Belchner had hired the young man and moved him into his rooms in the rectory. According to records of the Archdiocese’s interviews at this time, they noted that at least one individual accused Belchner of pedophilia, and a staffer said Belchner “desperately needs help.”

Despite the allegations, Father Belschner was not asked to resign from his assignment until mid-1991. At this point, he was placed on a leave of absence and asked to undergo counseling. He was never assigned to another parish. However, that was the extent of the actions taken by the Church at the time, and it appears no efforts were made to identify or assist any potential victims. The fact that the Archdiocese continued to transfer Belschner for so many years despite community concerns shows a lack of regard for the safety of children, which may have caused lasting harm to many individuals.

What Damage Can Religious Institution Sexual Abuse Cause?

Faith-based institutions, such as the Catholic Church, play an essential role in many people’s lives. Children within the Church are taught to respect and trust clergy members. When priests like Belschner betray that trust and use their positions to manipulate and harm young victims, it can inflict intense emotional damage. Long-term effects of clergy abuse may include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including flashbacks, nightmares, and trauma-related responses.
  • Difficulty forming and maintaining relationships.
  • Depression and anxiety.
  • Increased risk of re-victimization
  • Higher instances of substance abuse.
  • Potential for self-harm or suicide attempts.
  • Feelings of isolation from the community or spiritual practices.

Do You Have Legal Options if Father Bleschner Sexually Abused You?

The serious impacts of childhood sexual abuse cannot be overstated. Historically, victims have often struggled to come forward because of shame or fear, and those who did speak up at the time of the abuse may have been dismissed or intimidated into silence by authorities within the Church. Sadly, many clergy abuse survivors have carried their pain into adulthood without receiving justice or closure.

Previously, victims frequently ran out of time to file a claim because Maryland’s statute of limitations and statute of repose excluded cases that had occurred more than 20 years prior. However, with the recent passage of Maryland’s Child Victims Act of 2023, these statutes have been eliminated in cases of child sexual abuse. Now, no matter when the abuse occurred, victims are eligible to file civil suits against the individuals and negligent institutions that harmed them.

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse may seek non-economic damages for the pain and suffering the assault has caused over the years. Although no amount of money can undo the harm victims have experienced, holding the abuser and the Church liable for their actions may be an important step toward healing.

How Can Our Law Firm Assist You?

If you or a loved one suffered abuse at the hands of Father Ronald Belschner, you have legal rights. Our experienced religious institution sexual abuse lawyers at Andreozzi + Foote can provide compassionate, trauma-informed legal guidance. We understand the challenges faced by sexual abuse survivors, and we are here to support you every step of the way as you seek justice through the court system. Contact our law firm today at 866-311-8640 to schedule a free, confidential case evaluation to learn more about your rights and options.

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