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Were You the Victim of Sexual Abuse by Father Jerome “Jeff” Toohey at Calvert Hall or Elsewhere?

Perpetrators

Who is Father Jerome “Jeff” Toohey?

Father Toohey is one of the 156 abusers named in the 2023 Attorney General’s Report on Child Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He was ordained in 1977 and served in several positions within churches and schools in the Baltimore area, including Calvert Hall. Complaints from students about Father Toohey began as early as 1990, but he was allowed to continue working with children. In 1993, a male student accused Toohey of ongoing sexual abuse occurring from 1985 to 1989. Toohey denied the allegations and was placed on administrative leave. Unfortunately, the student’s civil suit was dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired.

Disturbingly, the Archdiocese seems to have considered allowing Father Toohey to return to his previous position at Calvert Hall after these allegations. The president of Calvert Hall even wrote a letter to parents in March of 1994 in support of Toohey. The school’s president praised his work with young men and claimed he had not engaged in any criminal wrongdoing. However, Toohey was ultimately terminated by Calvert Hall in June of 1994.

In 2004, another male student from Calvert Hall reported that Father Toohey had sexually abused him on a weekly basis from 1987 to 1990. This allegation led to criminal charges against Toohey in 2005. He pled guilty and was sentenced to five years in jail. He ultimately served ten months plus 18 months of probation. The AG’s report mentions that he was listed as credibly accused by the Archdiocese in 2002 and laicized in 2008.

In all, the Archdiocese has entered into settlement agreements ranging from $30,000 to $100,000 with at least three of Toohey’s victims. However, according to the report, internal Archdiocesan records contain names of more potential victims of Father Toohey, although no details of those cases are included. If you or a loved one were abused by Toohey at Calvert Hall or elsewhere, you deserve to seek justice for the harm he inflicted. Maryland has recently removed the statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse cases, allowing victims to file claims regardless of when the molestation occurred. To learn more about your legal rights, contact our compassionate religious institution sexual abuse lawyers to schedule a free, confidential case evaluation.

Where Did Father Toohey Come Into Contact With Children?

Toohey was mainly involved with high school ministry during his time with the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He served in official and volunteer capacities as school chaplain, counselor, and school board member, which placed him in contact with many Baltimore students and their families. His known assignments include:

  • Associate Pastor, St. Francis of Assisi, Baltimore, MD (1977-1984)
  • Board Member then Board President, John Carroll High School, Baltimore, MD (1980-1990)
  • Chaplain, Baltimore County Police Department (1987-1990)
  • Chaplain, Calvert Hall College High School, Baltimore, MD (1982-1993)
  • Chaplain to the Deaf Community (1984-1993)
  • Weekend Associate, St. John the Evangelist, Hydes, MD (1984-1993)

How Did Father Toohey Take Advantage of His Position to Prey Upon Victims?

A common thread in all the child sexual abuse cases contained in the Maryland AG’s report was how the abusers took advantage of the respect and authority afforded to them by the individuals in their parishes and communities. Catholic priests and other clergy members have always been trusted individuals, and many of the victims’ parents never thought twice about allowing their children to spend time alone with them. In Father Toohey’s case, he abused his position as a counselor to meet and harm vulnerable teenage boys.

The first victim to report abuse by Toohey was sent to him for counseling by his parents at age 15 after he came out as gay. Toohey spent significant time with the victim’s family and was considered a trusted friend, counselor, and confidant. The victim’s parents had no qualms about sending their son to weekly counseling sessions at Toohey’s residence or letting him stay there overnight on occasion. Tragically, Toohey took advantage of this trust and allegedly engaged in long-term sexual abuse of the boy.
The second victim to make allegations against Toohey was the son of recently divorced parents. The boy struggled in the divorce’s aftermath, and his mother asked Toohey to serve as a mentor and counselor during this difficult time. Instead, Toohey abused the boy for three years.

What Are Your Legal Options if Father Toohey or Another Clergy Member Abused You?

Experiencing abuse as a child can have many long-term adverse effects. It can shatter the victim’s trust in others, damage their relationship with religion, harm their mental health, and lead to other ongoing difficulties, such as struggles with addiction, difficulty maintaining relationships, and engaging in self-harm. In the past, it was very challenging to hold liable the perpetrators of these acts and those who enabled them. Even when victims were brave enough to come forward, their allegations were often dismissed or covered up by those in positions of power within the Church. The AG’s report highlights the fact that avoiding scandals and protecting priests frequently took precedence over helping victims and preventing further acts of abuse.

For victims who came forward as adults, they typically saw their cases dismissed because the statute of limitations had already passed, and they no longer had any legal recourse to bring their abusers to justice. However, in 2023, Maryland removed the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases, allowing victims to bring civil suits regardless of when the abuse occurred. This window of opportunity for victims will likely not last indefinitely, so it is crucial to speak with a knowledgeable lawyer as soon as possible to protect your legal rights. If Father Toohey or another clergy member abused you or a loved one, contact Andreozzi + Foote today at 866-311-8640 to learn how we can assist you.

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