|Coat of Arms|
July 13, 2010
Statement of Archbishop Charles Chaput on false charge against deceased priest
More than a year ago a female plaintiff filed a complaint under the pseudonym "Jane Doe" against Monsignor William Higgins. Msgr. Higgins passed away in 1967, after more than five decades of loyal service in this archdiocese, most of which was at St. Philomena's parish. Other than this single complaint made 42 years after Msgr. Higgins' death, no complaint has ever been advanced against this fine priest.
Through the litigation and the extensive discovery in the case, the archdiocese determined that the plaintiff's complaint was not credible and the charges made against Msgr. Higgins were groundless. The plaintiff has voluntarily dismissed all claims.
If Msgr. Higgins were alive today, he would be in good standing and able to minister in the archdiocese. False charges do inexcusable harm to a priest's good name, his reputation earned over years of service to others, and to the lay Catholic faithful and other dedicated priests. We are saddened that such a charge was made, but want you all to know that you can esteem Msgr. Higgins and keep him in your prayers as a righteous man.
As we work to ensure all people in the Archdiocese of Denver are safe, so too are we determined to defend the reputation of the many, many innocent good men and women who work in the archdiocese and give so much to others.
+Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Denver
Background on Archdiocesan Policy
We take every claim of sexual misconduct, and especially sexual abuse of a minor, seriously and we address it promptly. We report all claims of sexual abuse of a minor to the appropriate law enforcement authorities; we offer counseling to victims in any case where it will be helpful and we have sought to mediate cases whenever possible. We follow our Code of Conduct policy and the requirements of the national Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People consistently—this includes criminal background checks of all parish, school and archdiocesan personnel and mandatory education for the prevention of child sexual abuse. We respect the rights of the accuser, the accused and the other persons who might be affected by an allegation.