Feb. 22, 2023 – Allegations of sexual abuse of a minor made against Fr. J. Patrick Hough, SJ, have been dismissed with prejudice. His accuser has acknowledged that he misidentified Fr. Hough, clearing the way for Fr. Hough to return to active ministry.
In April of 2019, the U.S. Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus (“UCS Province”) was contacted by attorneys representing a person claiming to have been repeatedly sexually abused in 2011 at age 17 by Fr. J. Patrick Hough, SJ, a member of the UCS Province. Father Hough categorically denied the allegations.
The UCS Province investigated the facts alleged and based on objective information obtained from witnesses, fully supported Fr. Hough’s denial. Province leadership committed to work to defend Fr. Hough’s good name.
Subsequent to contacting the province, the claimant filed a lawsuit against the province based upon the alleged abuse. Until the matter was resolved, Fr. Hough did not engage in public ministry.
The lawsuit against the province was dismissed with prejudice because the Plaintiff now admits that he misidentified Fr. Hough. The judge in the case signed the order of dismissal on February 21, 2023.
While a great deal of time has passed, Fr. Hough has remained strong in his resolve and he has had the complete support of his provincials, Fr. Ronald A. Mercier, SJ, and Fr. Thomas P. Greene, SJ.
“Fr. Hough has lived a nightmare for nearly four years, being falsely accused of sexually abusing a minor,” Fr. Greene said. “He has suffered a great deal, yet he has always conducted himself with grace and with great faith that the truth would prevail. How great to see this day of vindication arrive!”
After waiting four long years, Fr. Hough will return to public ministry as soon as possible.
“I am so grateful to God for giving me the grace to get through this very difficult chapter of my life,” Fr. Hough said. “To Him goes the glory for having rescued me. Words cannot express my thanks to my provincials and fellow Jesuits who have stood by my side and supported me through this nightmare. I had an amazing legal team who fought hard to prove my innocence. With deep gratitude I want to thank my former students, friends, and family who rallied around me with an outpouring of love and support. I love being a priest and I look forward to serving the people of God again in public ministry.”
As stated in 2019, when this matter was in its earliest stages, when claims are found to be credible, the province is committed to resolving them and to providing assistance to those who have been harmed. However, the province also has an obligation to defend the truth when claims are not believed to be credible. In this case, the claims were not believed to be credible and in remaining steadfast in this belief, Fr. Hough’s long-deserved return to public ministry will become a reality.