Police still probing priest’s past
Saratoga County sheriff: No new victims so far
CLIFTON PARK Authorities on Thursday continued to investigate the Roman Catholic priest arrested this week for endangering the welfare of a child, but said no additional possible victims have come forward.
The Rev. James Michael Taylor, commonly known as “Father Michael,” faces the misdemeanor charge in connection with what authorities said was an inappropriate relationship with a 15-year-old Clifton Park girl.
There is one other potential victim, also a minor, already known to authorities, and that is under investigation. In announcing the arrest on Wednesday, police asked to hear from anyone else who may have had inappropriate contact with Taylor.
No one else had come forward as of late Thursday, said Saratoga County Sheriff Michael H. Zurlo. “We have not received any other phone calls as of now,” he said.
The alleged relationship that is the basis for the arrest began last fall, when the 30-year-old was a deacon and youth minister at Corpus Christi Church in Ushers, and it continued after he was reassigned to Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Niskayuna, police said.
The relationship involved physical contact, text messages, photos and phone calls, Zurlo said. There is no indication at this point of forced sexual contact, though the criminal complaint says the girl was subjected to sexual contact.
The victim’s family notified the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese on Monday, according to a diocese statement, leading to a complaint being filed with the Sheriff’s Department. Zurlo said the department was contacted directly by the family. Taylor was arrested on Tuesday.
“We investigated immediately,” Zurlo said.
Taylor has been suspended by the diocese from his current role as parochial vicar, or associate priest, at the Niskayuna church.
The head priest at Saint Kateri Tekakwitha posted a message on the church’s Facebook page Wednesday evening, which quickly prompted nearly three dozen messages of support or prayer from members of the church community.
“All I can say is that I am stunned and feeling about every emotion I have ever felt,” wrote the Rev. Robert Longobucco. “I know many of you are as well. I will never stop believing and loving our parish and all of you.”
He said a letter was sent to all parents of children at the parochial school and all parents with children in faith formation, notifying them of the allegation.
“We are only now confirming our plans to support one another in the coming days, weeks and beyond,” Longobucco continued. “We will let you know when they are to take place. Let us begin by praying for each other and all who are horribly hurt at this terrible time.”
One parishioner noted that Taylor recently organized the church’s participation in a St. Baldrick’s cancer research fundraiser at Proctors.
The Albany diocese issued a statement after the arrest in which it said it has “zero tolerance” for the kinds of abuse by priests that have rocked the Catholic church around the world over the past decade.
“The Albany Diocese will cooperate fully with the investigation,” the statement said.
Zurlo said department investigators will be sitting down with diocese officials to develop a detailed timeline for when Taylor served at which churches.
According to an article in The Evangelist — the diocese newspaper — when he was ordained a priest in 2012, Taylor had previously served in church roles at St. Peter’s in Saratoga Springs, Blessed Sacrament in Albany and St. Jude’s in Wynantskill.
Taylor was released without bail pending an appearance May 14 before Clifton Park Town Justice James Hughes.