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Assignment Record– Rev. Robert Harrison, OFM.Cap

Summary of Case: Robert Harrison was ordained a Capuchin priest of the St. Joseph Province in Detroit in 1964. He started his priesthood in his native Milwaukee as a parish assistant and teacher before going on to work as Director and Director of Social Services at a Wauwatosa home for adolescent boys. At some point he earned advanced degrees in Social Work and Law. Harrison appears to have left the Milwaukee archdiocese around 1977, living briefly in Bloomington, Indiana then relocating in 1978 to New York City. He reportedly worked as a civil attorney while living at a New York archdiocese-sponsored residence for young African-American men considering priesthood. The Official Catholic Directory shows several gaps in Harrison's assignment history. By 1983 he was an assistant priest at St. Charles Borromeo parish in Harlem, and by 1991 Harrison was a Cardinal Hayes High School faculty member and basketball coach.

In December 2014 Harrison was removed from Cardinal Hayes and suspended from public ministry after he admitted to having sexually abused ten minors during the 1970s and 1980s in Milwaukee, Manhattan and the Bronx. Harrison had been borrowing money from Hayes staff members and, when questioned about it, said he needed the money to pay a victim. Per the Capuchins, Harrison was sent to a "professional facility" and the abuse was reported to district attorneys in the jurisdictions in which it occurred.

Ordained: 1964


   

Start Stop Assignments Town/Accusations State Position Notes

1964

Archdiocese of Milwaukee

Archbishop was William Edward Cousins (1958-1977).

1965 St. Francis of Assisi Friary Milwaukee WI Harrison may have taught at the parish school.

St. Francis of Assisi Friary was attached to St. Francis of Assisiparish. The parish had a school.

    Messmer High School     may have taught here 1,214 students
1965 1967 St. Benedict the Moor Milwaukee WI 5/5, 4/6 St. Benedict's had a school with 248-230 students.
1967 1971 St. Francis of Assisi Friary Milwaukee WI   St. Francis of Assisi Friary was attached to St. Francis of Assisi parish. The parish had a school.
1971 1976 Carmelite Home for Boys

Wauwatosa

Harrison admitted in 2014 to having abused ten minors in Manhattan, the Bronx and in Milwaukee during the 1970s and 1980s.

WI Director 1971-1973; Director of Social Services 1973-1976

This was a residential treatment center for adolescent boys. There were 36-40 boys during this time.

Harrison had a masters degree in social work, and a law degree. It is unclear as to when he earned the degrees.

1976 1977         Harrison is indexed in the 1977 Directory as at the Carmelite Home for Boys, but he is not listed as there in the Milwaukee pages.

1977

Archdiocese of Indianapolis

Archbishop was George Joseph Biskup (1970-1979).

1978   Bloomington IN   Address given is 800 No. Smith Rd. Apt 6U, Bloomington, which is near Indiana University.

1978

Archdiocese of New York

Archbishop was Terence James Cooke (1968-1983).

1979   New York NY   Address given is 548 W. 150 St. NY, NY 
1979 1980   New York NY Harrison was said to have been working for the city as a civil attorney.

Address given is 321 E. 22nd St. Apt 4N New York NY

Harrison was said to have been living during this time at the Pierre Toussaint Residence, which was archdiocese-sponsored and for young African-American men considering the priesthood.

1980

 

1981         Harrison is indexed in the 1981 Directory as at the Capuchin Frairy in Detroit MI, but he is not listed there in the Detroit pages, nor is there any indication as to his whereabouts.

1981

Archdiocese of New York

Cooke was succeeded as New York archbishop by John Joseph O'Connor (1984-2000).

1984   New York NY   Address given is 548 W. 150 St. NY, NY 
1983 1990 St. Charles Borromeo

New York (Harlem)

Harrison admitted in 2014 to having abused ten minors in Manhattan, the Bronx and in Milwaukee during the 1970s and 1980s.

NY 3/4, 2/3 St. Charles Borromeo had a school with 504-491 students.
1990 1991         Harrison is not indexed in the 1991 Directory, nor is he listed as at his previous or next assignments.

1991

Edward Michael Egan replaced O'Connor as New York archbishop (2000-2009), followed by Timothy Michael Dolan (2009-).

2015 Cardinal Hayes High School New York (Bronx) NY religion teacher; black history teacher; assistant principal; basketball coach

Cardinal Hayes High had 1,080-878 students, all male.

Although not reflected in the Directories, Harrison was reported to have begun his work at Cardinal Hayes High in 1989.

Harrison was removed from public ministry in late December 2014 after he admitted to having sexually abused ten minors during the 1970s and 1980s in Milwaukee and New York. He had been borrowing money from Hayes staff members; when asked why, he said he needed the money to pay off a victim. Per his Order, he was sent to a "professional facility, and the abuse was reported to district attorneys offices in Manhattan and the Bronx in NY and Milwaukee WI.

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, 1965-2015).

Bronx School Ousts Priest After Admissions of Abuse, By Sharon Otterman, New York Times, January 5, 2015
Statement Regarding Fr. Robert Harrison, Ofm Cap., Capuchin Province of St. Joseph, January 5, 2015
Capuchin Priest with Milwaukee Ties Removed for Sex Abuse, By Annysa Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 5, 2015
Wisconsin priest barred from New York job after admitting past sexual abuse, By Katie Crowther, JRN, January 5, 2015
Longtime Bronx Catholic School Priest Admits Sexually Abusing Children: Officials, By Ida Seigal, NBC New York, January 5, 2015
Priest Who Taught at Cardinal Hayes Fired; Admitted to Abuse, Taking Money, WABC, January 6, 2014
Respected Catholic Priest Admits to Molesting Boys for Two Decades, By Ruth Manuel-Logan, News One, January 6, 2015
Support Group for Victims of Sexual Abuse Upset over Cardinal Hayes Handling of Pedophile Priest, By Denis Slattery, New York Daily News, January 6, 2015
Harrison's Secret World is Revealed, By Patrick J. Wall, Jeff Anderson & Associates, January 7, 2015
“I Know (and Knew) Fr. Robert Harrison, Capuchin Franciscan”, Road to Recovery, January 9, 2015

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 Harrison'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 29, 2017.


 
 

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