YOUNGSTOWN - The Vatican has officially notified the Diocese of Youngstown that Pope Benedict XVI has removed from the priesthood a former Warren-area priest accused of sexual misconduct involving a minor.
Thomas Crum, a former Cardinal Mooney High School faculty member who also served as a priest at St. James Catholic Church in Warren and St. Mary in Orwell, had requested he be removed from the priesthood after the allegations surfaced about a year ago.
He is accused of having sexual contact with a Mooney student more than 30 years ago, according to the diocese.
After the accusations were made public and following his removal from active ministry, Crum sought removal from the priesthood.
Removal from the priesthood means that in accordance with canon law, Crum may not function as a priest anywhere, with the exception of offering absolution to the dying.
''We are deeply sorry for the pain suffered by survivors of abuse due to action of some members of the clergy, as nothing is more important than protecting children,'' the diocese said in a statement released Monday. The diocese vowed to continue its commitment to protect children and helping to heal victims of abuse.
Crum, who had served more than 30 years with the diocese, had admitted to sexually abusing a high school student in 1975-76. Crum was removed from active ministry in 2009 after confirming allegations that he had sexually abused a minor.
The victim was a teenager at the time of the abuse and a student at Cardinal Mooney, where Crum was on the faculty from 1975-77.
The allegations came to light in May 2009, after the former student contacted the diocese, alleging he had been abused by Crum while enrolled at the school.
Following his removal, Crum was in a residential psychological treatment facility for treatment and evaluation.
After determining its credibility, the diocese reported the allegations to the Youngstown police department and the prosecutors in Stark and Mahoning counties.
Criminal charges were not filed because the incident took place more than 30 years ago, and the statute of limitations had run out
Before his removal from the ministry, Crum had served as pastor at Our Lady of Peace in Canton. He served in 11 different parishes across the diocese since 1975, including as assistant pastor at Warren's St. James Church, as well as St. John the Baptist in Campbell, at the same time from 1977-79.
Crum also had served at St. Christine in Youngstown, St. Mary in Orwell, Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Youngstown, St. Anthony in Canton and then took a leave of absence from 1994-97, when he returned as assistant pastor of St. Charles in Boardman. He then served at St. Peter in Rootstown and his last assignment at Our Lady of Peace in Canton.
In response to the statement Monday, Judy Jones, Midwest associate director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, urged individuals with knowledge of or who have been harmed by Crum to contact law enforcement.
''It's important for everyone with information about clergy sex crimes to come forward,'' Jones said, indicating such child sex crimes should be investigated by independent professionals in law enforcement.