Catholic Priest in Pocomoke Removed From Office and Suspended

diocese of wilmington

By Linda Cicoira — The Rev. William J. Porter was removed from his post at Holy Name of Jesus Church, in Pocomoke, Md., last week and was suspended from “exercising priestly ministries” after a Delaware State Police investigation of alleged sexual misconduct was halted because the statute of limitations had expired.

The accuser was a teenager when the offense is alleged to have occurred at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in New Castle, Del., 38 years ago. The Diocese was made aware of the allegation March 1. Now, another investigation, this one by the Wilmington Police Department is being conducted regarding a similar incident there.

In response to the allegation, the Diocese said in a statement, it notified the state police and the state attorney general’s office. On July 19, 2019, church officials said they were notified the state police “investigation was complete because the conduct occurred outside of the statute of limitations.”

Father Porter is currently under investigation by the Wilmington Police Department for alleged similar conduct. The Diocese of Wilmington stated it encourages those who have been sexually abused by a member of the clergy or anyone else, to immediately notify authorities.

Porter was ordained in 1975. He has served as pastor at the Pocomoke church since 2003. He was the pastor at St. Luke/St. Andrew in Ocean City, Md., from 1991 to 2003; was a faculty member at St. Elizabeth High School in Wilmington from 1982 to 1991; and served on the faculty at Saint Mark’s High School in Wilmington from 1979 to 1982.  Additionally, Father Porter was an associate pastor at St. Catherine of Siena, in Wilmington, from 1978 to 1979. He was also an Assistant Principal at St. Elizabeth High School from 1977-1978 and an associate pastor at St. Elizabeth Parish, in Wilmington, from 1975 to 1977.

“The Diocese of Wilmington is committed to protecting children and to providing support to survivors of sexual abuse,” an announcement stated. “We recognize the courage of those survivors who come forward to tell their stories after so many years. In acknowledging the pain suffered by survivors of abuse, Bishop W. Francis Malooly requests the faithful of the Diocese to join him in praying for the healing of all who have been harmed by abuse, for the countless lives affected by such actions, and for the many priests of the Diocese of Wilmington who have been faithful to their vocation and the people they serve.”

A spokesperson for the Delaware police referred a reporter to the Diocese’s statements. Questions were referred to a public relations officer at the Wilmington Police Department but the phone was not answered. Parishioners were told about Porter’s leaving the Pocomoke church last Saturday night when Mass began. 

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