October 9, 2020

Archdiocese of Philadelphia Announces Priest Found Unsuitable For Ministry

Reverend William E. Dean has been found unsuitable for ministry based on a substantiated allegation that he sexually abused a minor in the late 1970s.

Contextual Background Regarding Reverend William E. Dean

Reverend William E. Dean has served in a limited ministerial capacity for several years as a result of disability. He was declared legally blind in 2001 and requires the assistance of a service animal. He has not been assigned to a parish since 2012. Since that time, he has served as chaplain at Camilla Hall, a retirement community for the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHMs) in Chester County. Father Dean has also resided at that location for the past eight years.  

In June 2014 the Archdiocese of Philadelphia received a report noting concern that Father Dean may have engaged in inappropriate behavior with a minor while serving at Saints Philip and James Parish in Exton (Chester County) in the late 1970s. This report was the first of its kind lodged against Father Dean and did not include any allegations of criminal behavior. It did, however, identify the individual who was a minor at that time. This person was contacted by the Archdiocese on multiple occasions, but did not wish to engage in dialogue.

As all available facts relative to this report constituted a potential violation of The Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries established by the Archdiocese, the required canonical (Church) investigation of Father Dean was launched. Had any information regarding alleged criminal activity been presented, the matter would first have been referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency in accordance with longstanding Archdiocesan policy.

The Archdiocesan Office of Investigations (AOI) undertook the canonical process. The AOI is responsible for conducting internal and canonical investigations following the conclusion of work performed by civil authorities. The AOI also performs investigations in matters that center on alleged activity that is not illegal in nature, but that may violate The Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries established by the Archdiocese.

Currently, the AOI is led by a former First Assistant District Attorney for the City and County of Philadelphia. During the 2014 investigation of Father Dean, it was led by a former Deputy District Attorney for the City and County of Philadelphia.

The Director of the AOI oversees the work noted above and is the liaison between the Archbishop and the Archdiocesan Professional Responsibilities Review Board (APRRB). The APRRB was established in 2002 and functions as a confidential advisory body to the Archbishop. It is composed of 12 men and women, both Catholic and non-Catholic, who possess extensive professional experience in investigation, prosecution, child abuse prevention, victim services, and the treatment of sexual offenders. Information regarding the credentials of the APRRB’s members is available at

http://archphila.org/archdiocesan-offices/office-of-investigations/review-board-members/.

The APRRB receives the results of canonical investigations conducted by the Office of Investigations. The APRRB then evaluates all facts and makes a recommendation to the Archbishop regarding an individual cleric’s suitability for ministry so that he can make a decision in such matters.

In this case, the APRRB shared its finding with Archbishop Chaput, then serving as Archbishop of Philadelphia, that Father Dean had violated The Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries. Both Archbishop Chaput and the APRRB concurred that Father Dean could remain in ministry, but only in a limited capacity as Chaplain at Camilla Hall and with a monitoring and support plan in place. This plan limited Father Dean’s regular priestly ministry to service at Camilla Hall and precluded his ability to leave that facility or receive visitors without advance notice as well as multiple layers of approval.

Information regarding Father Dean’s circumstance was shared with the local superior general of the IHMs and the administrator of Camilla Hall. They agreed to the terms of the plan and to assist Archdiocesan personnel in its enactment. Father Dean also agreed to abide with these conditions.

Today’s Announcement Regarding Reverend William E. Dean

In October 2019 a claim was registered with the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program (IRRP) in which an individual alleged they had been sexually abused by Father Dean while they were a minor. That abuse was alleged to have occurred in the late 1970s while Father Dean was serving at Saints Philip and James Parish in Exton (Chester County). This allegation was the first of its kind lodged against Father Dean.

The allegation was reported to law enforcement by the Archdiocese upon receipt. In January 2020, the Archdiocese was notified by the Chester County District Attorney’s office that no criminal charges would be filed in this matter. Following that notification, the required canonical (Church) investigation was launched. That process was undertaken by the AOI and followed the same procedure as the 2014 investigation of Father Dean as noted in the section above.

In this matter, the APRRB shared its unanimous finding with Archbishop Pérez that the allegation of sexual abuse against Father Dean was substantiated along with its unanimous recommendation that he was unsuitable for ministry. Archbishop Pérez accepted that recommendation and determined that Father Dean is unsuitable for ministry. The case will now be forwarded to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican in keeping with procedure for the formal canonical process.

Father Dean has been removed from his residence at Camilla Hall and the information above has been shared with its residents as well as leadership of the IHMs.

Biographical Information Regarding Reverend William E. Dean

Father Dean is 70 years old. He was ordained in 1976. He has served at the following parishes, schools and offices: Saint Ann, Phoenixville (1976-1978); Office for Youth and Young Adults (1977-1978); Saints Philip and James, Exton (1978-1983); Saint Isaac Jogues, Wayne (1983); Saint Jerome, Philadelphia (1983-1986); Chaplain, Saint Hubert Catholic High School for Girls, Philadelphia (1984-1986); Immaculate Conception, Philadelphia (1986-1991); Saint Patrick, Philadelphia (1991); Holy Angels, Philadelphia (1991-1993); Catholic Social Services, Family Services Division (1993-1995); Old Saint Mary’s Philadelphia (1993-1995); Sacred Heart of Jesus, Philadelphia (1995-2012); Chaplain, Camilla Hall (2012-2020); priestly faculties restricted and found unsuitable for ministry (2020).

To Make a Report

We recognize that today’s public notice may be painful to victims of sexual violence and exploitation. If you need support or assistance, victim services are available to you through the Victim Assistance Office of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at 1-888-800-8780 or philavac@archphila.org.

If you would like to report an allegation of sexual abuse or any other criminal activity perpetrated by a priest, deacon, employee, or volunteer of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, contact your local law enforcement agency and/or the Office for Investigations at 1-888-930-9010.

If you would like to report a violation of The Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries, contact the Archdiocesan Office for Investigations at 1-888-930-9010.

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Editor’s Note: To learn more about ongoing efforts within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia over the course of nearly two decades to provide safe environments for the children and young people entrusted to its care and to assist survivors of sexual abuse on their path to healing, please visit www.AOPPledgetoProtect.com.  

Contact:

Contact: Kenneth A. Gavin
Chief Communications Officer
215-587-3747 (office)