Diocese: Diocese of Harrisburg
From Report I of the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:
Father Jesus Barajas was a Trinitarian Father from Columbia who assisted the Diocese of Harrisburg with the Spanish speaking population of York and Lebanon. On June 30, 1989, Monsignor Hugh Overbaugh wrote a memorandum to Monsignor Damian McGovern. Overbaugh noted that Father Bernardo Pistone cited ongoing problems with Barajas and whether Barajas should continue to serve in the Diocese of Harrisburg. Overbaugh described that Pistone outlined three specific concerns related to Barajas. One of those concerns provided, “[i]n spite of past allegations with respect to his associations with the youth of the parish about which he received special warnings, he continues these associations.”
In a letter dated November 7, 1989, Pistone informed McGovern that he received two telephone calls from parishioners that “quite clearly repeated the past accusations of child molestation.” Pistone asserted in the letter that he knew the parishioners who made the complaints and Pistone questioned their credibility. Pistone stated, “I think that the accusation of child molestation has no basis, however, because of his immaturity and other bad habits people could easily read them in the wrong sense.” Pistone also stated he “was hoping we could keep Father Jesus in Lebanon until the Spring changes; but, with all these issues flaring up again I do not know if it would be wise to keep him here.”
In a memorandum dated November 16, 1989, Monsignor William M. Richardson informed Edward G. Faraday that Barajas would leave the Diocese on November 20, 1989. The Diocese provided Barajas with $2,000 to help cover his transportation costs to Columbia and to help with his resettlement expenses. The Chancellor of the Diocese would later testify that this was “disturbing.”
On January 17, 1990, McGovern wrote to the Very Reverend Antonio Caprarola, O.SS.T in Rome, Italy. McGovern stated, “I deeply regret to inform you that, for many serious reasons, the life and ministry of Father Barajas proved to be most unsatisfactory and, accordingly, he was asked to terminate his association with the Diocese of Harrisburg.”
On June 16, 1995, Father Paul Helwig wrote a memorandum to the file of Barajas. Helwig stated that the Archdiocese of New York had contacted the Diocese of Harrisburg. An allegation that Barajas committed sexual misconduct was presented to the Archdiocese of New York. The Archdiocese stated, “there were some concerns raised about Father Jesus, but nothing specific was presented.” Based on a letter written by the Diocese of Harrisburg, the Archdiocese was informed that the Diocese of Brooklyn denied Barajas faculties.
Additional information regarding the widespread sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Dioceses of Pennsylvania and the systemic cover up by senior church officials is compiled in the Pennsylvania Diocese Victim’s Report published by the Pennsylvania Attorney General following a two-year grand jury investigation. A complete copy of the Report is available on the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s website.