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Church releases new information on investigation into Tulsa priest

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Father Joe Townsend is seen in a photo provided by the Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma.

In July, the Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma said a priest of the Diocese had been placed on administrative leave due to allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor. Today, the church released new details on the investigation.

According to a statement released by the church, the allegation of misconduct against Father Joe Townsend stems from his time as an Associate Pastor at St. Pius X Catholic Church from June 1988 to June 1991.

If you have any other information about misconduct by Father Townsend, the church is inviting you to contact local law enforcement and call the diocesan Pastoral Hotline at 918-307-4970. You can remain anonymous.

The investigation is ongoing.

Harrison Garlick, Chancellor and In-House Counsel, released the following statement:

On July 5, 2019, the Diocese of Tulsa & Eastern Oklahoma (“Diocese”) announced that Father Joe Townsend, a priest of the Diocese, had been placed on administrative leave due to a non-frivolous allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor. After several weeks, the still ongoing third-party investigation has provided the Diocese with a better understanding of the allegation lodged against Father Townsend and what needs to be done to proceed with the investigation.
As such, in fulfillment of the Diocese’s commitment to transparency and our desire to determine the merits of the allegation, we wish to announce that the allegation of misconduct against Father Townsend stems from when he served as an Associate Pastor at St. Pius X Catholic Church from June 1988 to June 1991.
The Diocese is asking anyone with knowledge or concerns about any misconduct by Father Townsend, regardless of when the conduct occurred, to come forward at this time. Persons are invited to contact local law enforcement and call the diocesan Pastoral Hotline at (918) 307-4970. Callers to the Hotline will be greeted by an automated message and may leave messages anonymously, if preferred.
Father Richard Bradley, the Pastor of St. Pius X Catholic Church, has commented: “At St. Pius, we are sad to learn that the allegation against Father Joe Townsend involves the St. Pius X Church and School community some 29 years ago. We understand the need to fully investigate the allegation in order to bring to light any abuse that may have occurred, and we pledge our support of the investigative process. At the same time, we affirm that there are many students from that era as well as their parents, who remember Father Joe fondly and favorably. We pray for a peaceful and speedy resolution to this matter.”
Bishop David Konderla has stated, “Our faith is rooted in Jesus Christ and His Church. I wish to express my gratitude toward all who continue to join me in praying for the patience and prudence necessary to see this matter carried out with justice and integrity.”
The investigation is still ongoing, and Father Townsend is still presumed innocent. He is still fully cooperating with the investigation, and continues to deny all allegations of misconduct.
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