Priest investigation is moving forward
By Brian Sweeney
Delaware County Sheriff’s Department officials are continuing their investigation of a Margaretville priest who is suspected of endangering the welfare of children.
The Very Rev. James McDevitt is being investigated in connection with alleged inappropriate behavior toward children after several complaints were made against him in recent weeks.
Personnel from the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department and the New York State Police executed a warrant on June 8 to search the buildings at the Sacred Heart Parish on Academy Street.
The crews removed a considerable number of boxes and bags from the premises. Undersheriff Douglas Vredenburgh said this week that materials removed from the Sacred Heart facilities are still being analyzed and evaluated.
“We do expect to make an arrest in the matter,” the undersheriff told the News.
Father McDevitt has been accused by several adolescent males of subjecting them to “discipline” that has been deemed as including inappropriate contact, investigators said.
The priest allegedly purchased expensive gifts for a number of children who were part of “a youth group” — including bicycles and iPods. Several members of the youth group have come forward and told investigators about the “discipline” they received from the priest for improper behavior.
The undersheriff said that since the case became public, additional people have come forward and these leads are being examined.
Father McDevitt was a patient at Albany Medical Center when the search warrant was executed. He was suffering from injuries sustained in a June 2 auto accident near Andes. He was subsequently ticketed for driving while intoxicated.
Ken Goldfarb, spokesman for the Albany Diocese which oversees the Sacred Heart parish, said the church is cooperating fully with the law enforcement’s investigation.
Mr. Goldfarb said he believes Father McDevitt has been staying with family since his release from the hospital.
The spokesman was asked whether the diocese is aware of the location of Father McDevitt’s computer, which police have been searching for since last week.
“That’s assuming there’s a computer that’s missing – I don’t know that,” Mr. Goldfarb stated.
The spokesman added, “We’re going to wait until law enforcement completes its work before deciding what has to be done – if anything.”
The priest was assigned to the Sacred Heart Parish about five years ago. The parish includes churches in Margaretville, Andes and Roxbury. The Roxbury church was closed earlier this year due to a lack of operational funds.
Father McDevitt was featured in The Evangelist, the official publication of the Albany Diocese that oversees the local parish, shortly after he joined the priesthood 12 years ago.
The story indicates that after graduating from St. Mary’s Academy in Glens Falls, he completed two tours of duty in Vietnam. He then attended several colleges in the Albany area and ultimately received an MBA in finance.
Father McDevitt then began employment with the Christian Brothers, working at LaSalle Academy, LaSalle Institute in Troy and Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse and Albany. His positions at these schools included working as a middle school and high school teacher, guidance counselor and principal.
At that point, he made the decision to join the priesthood and began studies at the Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, WI. He joined the priesthood about 12 years ago.