Pastor Letter March 19, 2021

Dear Parish Family of Our Lady Star of the Sea,
    Our parish has had some negative publicity lately. May I bring you up to date? As you have likely seen or heard, Father Basil Akut, who has served here at Our Lady Star of the Sea, has been accused in a lawsuit of having an improper relationship with an adult woman. Although Father Basil denies the accusation, and should be considered innocent until proven guilty, he has voluntarily stepped away from the parish while the matter is investigated. The case has been referred to the District Attorney. Please keep both Father Basil and the woman who has made the allegation in your prayers.
      This is doubly painful for me; because it reopens an old wound. 4 years ago, a claim was brought to the archdiocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program(IRCP), alleging that nearly four decades ago I had committed an act of abuse with a minor. Under the archdiocesan policy at the time, and with the knowledge of the District Attorneys, allegations brought under the IRCP did not result in a priest’s immediate removal from the parish, and so I was permitted to remain a pastor while the matter was thoroughly investigated by law enforcement, independent forensic investigators, and ultimately, the archdiocesan lay review board. In the end, the allegation was found to be unsubstantiated, and the individual’s claim was denied.
       As has been made public, the same individual has filed a lawsuit against me under the Child Victims Act. Once again, I steadfastly deny the allegations. Because this matter has already been investigated and found to be unsubstantiated, I have been permitted to remain in my role as your pastor. I harbor no resentment or ill-will towards the individual who has made the allegation; and ask that you keep this person in your prayers as well.
       As we approach these final days of Lent, and look forward to Holy Week and Easter, let us unite with Jesus as we prepare to commemorate His passion, death, and glorious Resurrection.
       Faithfully in Christ,
  Father Thomas P. Devery, Pastor