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Assignment Record– Msgr. Wallace A. Harris

Summary of Case: Wallace A. Harris was ordained for the Archdiocese of New York in 1972. He assisted at St. Joseph of the Holy Family for more than a decade and, from the late 1970s through the 1980s, was on the faculty of Cathedral Preparatory Seminary. In 1990 Harris was named pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Harlem, where he remained for nearly twenty years. In addition, he was administrator for several years of two other parishes in the 2000s - St. Peter's, and Resurrection in Harlem.

Through the years, Harris rose to prominence in the archdiocese. He held the position of Spiritual Advisor for the Society of St. Vincent De Paul, served on the Archdiocesan Priests Council, and was an Archdiocesan Consultor. In 2009 he was elevated to Monsignor. He was selected in 2002 to testify before the USCCB's National Review Board; Harris told the board that clergy sex abuse was a problem, but that too many innocent priests were being accused. In March 2008 Msgr. Harris gave the invocation for the new governor's inauguration and the following month he organized Pope Benedict XVI's mass at Yankee Stadium.

In June 2008 a man alleged that, when he was a 13- or 14-year-old Cathedral Prep student, Harris sexually abused him. The D.A. investigated and discovered another former Cathedral Prep student with allegations against Harris. Harris was suspended in late July. Soon thereafter a third man came forward, saying Harris sexually abused him when he was 13 to 16 years-old. This accuser said he was Harris' godson, and had been his student at St. Joseph's parish and Cathedral Prep. By September 2010 seven additional men had come forward. Harris denied the allegations. He was not criminally charged due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.

In 2012 Harris was sentenced by the Vatican to "a life of prayer and penance." Per the archdiocese, he was living under "very, very close supervision" in a Catholic facility.

Ordained
: 1972


   

Start Stop Assignments Town/Accusations State Position Notes

1972

Archdiocese of New York

Archbishop was Terence James Cooke (1968-1983).

1983 St. Joseph of the Holy Family

New York

 

NY 2/2, 2/3, 2/4

St. Joseph's had a school with 263-214 students.

1977

Cooke was succeeded by John Joseph O'Connor (1984-2000).

1989 Cathedral Preparatory Seminary

New York

In June 2008 a man alleged that Harris had sexually abused him when he was a 13- or 14-year-old student at Cathedral Prep. In the course of the ensuing investigation, the Manhattan Attorney General's Office discovered another alleged victim, also said to have been abused as a young student at Cathedral Prep.

A third man publicly alleged in August 2008 that Harris had sexually molested him when he was ages 13-16, beginning in 1979. He said he came forward mainly to support the first two men who reported abuse as boys by Harris. This accuser said Harris baptized and confirmed him, and that Harris was his godfather. Also, he said Harris taught him when he was a student at both St. Joseph Elementary School and Cathedral Prep, and that the two became so close, people referred to him as "little Father Harris." The man said further that he entered seminary due to Msgr. Harris' influence, but that he eventually left to become New York City police officer.

By September 2010 seven other men had come forward with allegations against Harris.

NY Vice Rector 1983-1989 Cathedral Prep had 103-149 students.

1989

Edward Michael Egan replaced O'Connor as New York archbishop (2000-2009).

2008 Society of St. Vincent De Paul, District Council of Manhattan New York NY Spiritual Advisor  
1990 2008 St. Charles Borromeo New York (Harlem) NY

1/3, 1/2, 1/1

Named 'Monsignor' in 1990.

St. Charles' had a school with 503-520 students, and a CCD program with 517-61 students.
1995 2008 Archdiocesan Priests Council New York NY Chairman  
2002 2004 St. Peter's New York NY 1/5 Administrator In 2002 Harris was selected to testify before the USCCB's National Review Board on clergy sex abuse. Harris acknowledged the problem of abusive priests, but reportedly emphasized a problem of too many innocent priests getting "swept up in these accusations."
2003 2008 Church of the Resurrection New York (Harlem) NY 1/1 Administrator

Resurrection had a school with 215-132 students, and a CCD program with 45-68 students. It closed in 2007 or 2008.

In March 2008 Harris gave the invocation at New York Governor David Paterson's inauguration. In April 2008 Harris organized Pope Benedict XVI's mass at Yankee Stadium.

2006

Egan was succeeded by Timothy Michael Dolan (2009-).

2010 Archdiocesan Consultors New York NY  

Harris was suspended by the archdiocese in July 2008 due to allegations that he had sexually abused two minors twenty years previously. By late 2010 at least 10 men had come forward to allege abuse as children by Harris.

Harris denied the allegations. He was not criminally charged due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.

In 2010 Archbishop Dolan announced that Harris would "never again publicly function or present himself as a priest."

Harris is not indexed beyond the 2010 Directory.

Harris was sentenced by the Vatican in February 2012 to "a life of prayer and penance," and was said by the archdiocese to be living in a Catholic facility under "very, very close supervision."

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Sources: Official Catholic Directory (Kenedy & Sons, 1973-2010).

 Statement by Archdiocese of New York, August 3, 2008
 Harlem Pastor Steps down after Sex Abuse Scandal, By Ninad Shah and Lee Kushnir, WCBS, August 3, 2008
 Harlem Monsignor Facing Sex Abuse Charges, WABC, August 4, 2008
Harlem Pastor Suspended As DA Probes Charges He Sexually Abused 2 Kids, By Oren Yaniv, Daily News, August 4, 2008
• Harlem Pastor Wallace Harris Won't Be Charged with Sexual Abuse, By Oren Yaniv, Daily News, August 4, 2008
 Top Priest in Perv Probe, By Ed Robinson, New York Post, August 4, 2008
 No Charges for Harlem Priest, By Oren Yaniv, Daily News, August 5, 2008
 Harlem Priest Will Not Be Charged, By Rebecca Brody, eFluxMedia, August 5, 2008
 DA Can't Touch Paterson's "Perv" Pastor, By Laura Italiano and Pilar Conci, New York Post, August 5, 2008
 In Harlem, Shock and Anger at Pastor’s Removal, By Paul Vitello, New York Times, August 5, 2008
Accused in Scandal, a Pastor Who Rose High Yet Felt Free to Speak out, By Paul Vitello, New York Times, August 9, 2008
 Prominent Black NY Monsignor Accused of Sexual Abuse, By Kilian Melloy, Edge, August 12, 2008
 Pastor Steps Forward with New Claim of Past Sexual Abuse by Harlem Monsignor, By Paul Vitello, New York Times, August 14, 2008
 Former NYPD Officer Says He Was Molested by Msgr. Wallace Harris, By Oren Yaniv, Daily News, August 15, 2008
 Harlem Monsignor Accused of Abusing Students Resigns, By Paul Vitello, New York Times, September 16, 2010
 8 More Men Accuse Priest of Sexual Abuse, By Paul Vitello, NY Times, September 20, 2008 
 Harlem Pastor Accused of Sex Abuse Resigns, NBC New York, September 16, 2010
• SNAP Statement, September 16, 2010
 Prominent Harlem Pastor Accused of Molesting Children Has Resigned, "Will Never Again" Be a Priest, By Corky Siemaszko, New York Daily News, September 16, 2010
 Top Priest Banished, By Dan Mangan, New York Post, February 1, 2012

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Harris's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with the allegations against him, as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegations we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on March 27, 2017.


 
 

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