The Archdiocese of New York has removed an auxiliary bishop, 74-year-old John Jenik, from his public ministry after a Church body concluded that in the 1980s, as a parish priest in the Bronx, he engaged in inappropriate behavior toward and sexual abuse of a teenage boy over a period of years, The New York Times reported.
In a written statement today, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said, “Although the alleged incidents occurred decades ago, the Lay Review Board has concluded that the evidence is sufficient to find the allegation credible and substantiated.”
The charges against Jenik were brought to the attention of the Archdiocese in January by the victim, Michael Meenan, who is now 52. Meenan said he met Jenik while going to Confession, and that the priest befriended his family and then took the teenager out to dinner and movies and on as many as 70 overnight stays upstate — where he gave him alcohol — over a six-year period.
In one instance when he was 15, Meenan said, Jenik physically accosted him in a bed they were sharing and put his mouth close to the youth’s. The Times reported that Meenan described being “frozen with terror” as that happened.
Meenan, a graduate of Brown University, worked for more than two years as deputy editor at Gay City News, and was later a reporter at New York 1 and The New York Times. At Gay City News, Meenan won recognition for outstanding news story of the year from the New York Press Association for his reporting on the 2003 murder of Sakia Gunn in Newark.
In an October 29 letter, Jenik denied Meenan’s allegations, writing, “I continue to steadfastly deny that I have ever abused anyone at any time. Therefore I will ask the Vatican, which has ultimate jurisdiction over such cases to review the matter, with the hope of ultimately proving my innocence.”
Telling the Times that Jenik believed he could “do whatever I want and get away with it,” Meenan said, “I can no longer live with this rage. It has got to go.”
In 2016, Meenan prevailed on Fordham Prep, where he went to high school, to discharge a religious studies teacher, Fernand Beck, whom the school concluded had sexually molested him after a drinking party at a home in Westchester County. Meenan first brought the matter to the attention of Fordham Prep officials the same year, but the school took no action for 32 years.
Fordham Prep eventually paid Meenan a settlement in the Beck matter. Meenan will seek compensation under the Archdiocese’s program to offer reconciliation to victims of sexual abuse by its priests.
Meenan is represented by Mitchell Garabedian, a key figure in exposing the massive sexual abuse scandal in the Boston Archdiocese more than a decade ago.
Jenik was elevated to auxiliary bishop by Pope Francis, a post where he assists the archbishop, Dolan.