A Roman Catholic priest and Boston hospital chaplain has been charged with sexually assaulting a child in 2006, the Boston Globe reports.
Rev. Christian Ohazulume, a visiting priest from Nnewi, Nigeria, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to three counts of aggravated indecent assault and battery of a child under 14.
Prosecutors say Ohazulume was living with the alleged victim’s family in the suburban city of Randolph when she was about 7 or 8 years old. The woman told investigators that she went to the priest’s bedroom for help with homework one night when no one else was in the house. She alleges Ohazulume groped her breasts, forcibly kissed her, and touched her vaginal area over her clothing.
Ohazulume eventually became a visiting priest at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Brookline, according to the Archdiocese of Boston. He has been assisting in celebrating Mass and hearing confessions at the parish since 2010. He’s also worked as a hospital chaplain at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
The Archdiocese of Boston said in a statement that it first heard about the sexual abuse allegation on Aug. 31 and that officials immediately notified the police and Ohazulume’s home diocese in Nigeria. The Boston archdiocese has removed Ohazulume from ministry and barred him from parish property. Beth Israel also fired him, the Boston Globe reports.
The priest’s bail was set at $5,000. If released, he will be required to surrender his passport and submit to GPS monitoring, according to ABC affiliate WCVB.
The Catholic Church is facing renewed calls for transparency and accountability over how it has handled sex abuse allegations. After news about the clerical sex abuse scandal first broke in Boston in 2002, the U.S. Catholic church put a series of reforms in place to protect children.
Years later, scandal has roiled the church again, with survivors claiming it hasn’t done enough to discipline high-ranking bishops who either committed abuse or helped cover up for abusive priests.
On Wednesday, Pope Francis’ advisers announced that the pontiff is summoning the world’s top Catholic bishops to the Vatican for a summit in February that is meant to address the issue.