TULSA, Okla. – A priest in the Tulsa area has been placed on administrative leave following allegations of ‘sexual misconduct with a minor.’
On Friday, officials with the Diocese of Tulsa & Eastern Oklahoma announced that Father Joe Townsend was being placed on administrative leave.
“As the head of the Diocese of Tulsa & Eastern Oklahoma, Bishop Konderla is fully committed to the Policies & Procedures for the Protection of Children & Young People. As part of that commitment, Bishop Konderla has placed Father Joe Townsend, a priest of the Diocese, on administrative leave due to a non-frivolous allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor,” a statement by Chancellor and in-House Counsel Harrison Garlick read. “In adherence to the Policies, the Diocese is committed to a process that is both victim-centered and respectful of the rights of the accused. Father Joe Townsend is presumed innocent, he is fully cooperating with the investigation, and he denies all allegations of misconduct. A priest being placed on administrative leave is a prudential step in the procedures of addressing an allegation of sexual misconduct. It permits the Diocese to conduct an open, thorough, and fair investigation. As the Church reminds us, we must always avoid gossip and rash judgement and seek whatever is true and whatever is just.”
Church leaders say no further details will be shared until the investigation is complete.
“I ask the Church in Eastern Oklahoma to join me in praying for the patience and prudence necessary to see this matter carried out with justice and integrity,” said Bishop Konderla.
The statement says that anyone with knowledge or concerns should come forward to speak with local law enforcement officers and the church.