Catholic Priest Suspended After Misconduct
The Archdiocese of Anchorage is in the process of trying to remove a local priest of his title after violating the church's code of conduct.
A Catholic priest who was forced to retire several years ago from a local church after complaints of misconduct is in hot water again, after another victim came forward with similar allegations.
“He’s personable and has done a lot of good work and that’s some of the sad aspects, is he's served so long,” said Father Tom Brundage, with the Archdiocese of Anchorage.
Father J. Michael Hornick, now in his mid 60's, served the Archdiocese of Anchorage for over 40 years, but in 2009 he was forced to resign as a priest from the St. Nicholas of Myra Catholic Church after he violated the Code of Pastoral Conduct, with allegations of inappropriate behavior with two women.
“Occasional touches, and then attempts at kissing, those are breaking our protocol in our code of conduct,” said Father Brundage.
The first incident happened in 1997 while Father Hornick was working in a bureaucratic position with the Archdiocese of Anchorage.
“He was sent off to a treatment facility for approximately 6 months or so, and he returned to work with Archdiocese because there was no criminal activity,” according to Father Brundage.
After completing treatment and several years later, Father Hornick was assigned to be in charge of St. Nicholas Church from 2006 to 2009. It was there where a second woman claimed to be inappropriately touched by Hornick, and officials forced him to retire as a result.
“This did not involve force, did not involve children, was not criminal in its nature,” he said.”These people can sometimes be rehabilitated, in hindsight in his case, perhaps that was unwise.”
Now, a third woman has come forward with similar allegations, prompting the church to go a step further, suspending Father Hornick of all his priestly duties. The church considers him dangerous, and is in the process of trying to permanently remove his rights to exercise as a priest, which has to be approved by the Vatican.
Sgt. Cindy Stanton, with the the Anchorage Police Department's Crimes Against Children Unit said incidents such as this one could potentially lead to crimes.
“If you feel uncomfortable with somebody touching you, or being close to you, don’t it, if they do continue with action, then there's the crime,” she said.
Elise Boudreau, a victim of sexual abuse, and an advocate for victims, said the reality to come forward about abuse or assault from religious leaders can be challenging. “It is very hard for adults to come forward, especially if they are perpetrators, or someone that holds a respectable position in the community,” she said.
Officials from the Archdiocese of Anchorage hope that by coming out to the public about the incidents, more victims may come forward. They say Father Hornick has been uncooperative and denies all the allegations.
If you know anyone who has been victimized or targeted by Father Hornick, you can contact Standing Together Against Rape (STAR), at 907-276-7279.