An allegation of abuse made against Auxiliary Bishop John Jenik has been found credible and substantiated by the independent Lay Review Board. The bishop has denied the “allegation of inappropriate behavior” made by a single victim based on alleged incidents that took place decades ago.
Bishop Jenik, 74, who has served as pastor of Our Lady of Refuge parish in the Bronx since 1985, has stepped aside from public ministry and may not function as a bishop or a priest while the Holy See reviews the case.
A letter from Cardinal Dolan was mailed to parishioners of Our Lady of Refuge Oct. 29, and it was released by the archdiocese two days later. In it, the cardinal explained that the allegation “of inappropriate behavior with one person” was made against Bishop Jenik through the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program.
“The case has now been referred to the Holy See, which will make the final judgment and decide an appropriate resolution,” the cardinal wrote.
The IRCP was launched by the Archdiocese of New York in October 2016 to assist victim-survivors of sexual abuse by a bishop, priest or deacon of the archdiocese achieve a sense of resolution and healing for the suffering they have endured.
Archdiocesan protocol and procedure call for an investigation by an independent team of investigators, all former federal agents. The investigation is reviewed by the independent Lay Review Board, comprised of judges, attorneys, psychiatrists and psychologists, parents, child care experts and others, who render a decision on whether the allegation was credible and substantiated.
Before those steps, the allegation was immediately reported to the proper district attorney “for whatever action they wish to take,” the cardinal’s letter said.
This is the first allegation made against Bishop Jenik. The cardinal’s letter indicates the alleged incidents took place “decades ago.”
In a letter to his parishioners, Bishop Jenik said he continues “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,” the bishop wrote.
The bishop also asked for prayers for the person “who brought this allegation against me, and for all those who are victims-survivors of abuse.”
Bishop Jenik has been assigned to Our Lady of Refuge parish since 1978. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1970. He was ordained a bishop in 2014, and has served as episcopal vicar of the Bronx, North Manhattan and Central Harlem since 2014. He has served as dean of the Northwest Bronx since 2006.