Catholic bishop steps down after sex-abuse claim

NEW YORK — A 74-year-old Catholic bishop in New York has stepped down from public ministry after being accused of sexual abuse.

(Archdiocese of New York)

The allegations lodged against auxiliary Bishop John Jenik, of Our Lady of Refuge in the Bronx, involved inappropriate behavior with a teenage boy in the 1980s, according to a report in The New York Times.

"Although the alleged incidents occurred decades ago, the Lay Review Board has concluded that the evidence is sufficient to find the allegation credible and substantiated," Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, said in a statement Wednesday.

The Lay Review Board is an independent team of lawyers, judges, psychologists and other experts who review sexual abuse allegations in the New York archdiocese.

In an Oct. 29 letter to his parishioners, Jenik denied that he ever "abused anyone at any time."

"Therefore I will ask the Vatican, which has ultimate jurisdiction over such cases to review the matter, with the hope of ultimately proving my innocence," Jenik wrote.

Dolan said Jenik "may not function or present himself as a bishop or priest pending the outcome of the review."

New York's attorney general has launched a probe into clergy sex abuse allegations in the Roman Catholic Church after a grand jury report found rampant sexual abuse by of more than 1,000 children by about 300 priests in Pennsylvania since the 1940s.

The report accused senior church officials of orchestrating a systematic cover-up to protect the church from scandal. Several other states have also announced investigations into allegations of clergy abuse in local dioceses.