Fr. Thomas S. Schaefer – Archdiocese of Washington

| Jun 5, 2019 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Father Thomas S. Schaefer

Archdiocese of Washington

Ordained: 1953

Laicized: 1986

Died: 2009

Assigned as follows:

  • 1953 – 1957             Holy Name (Washington, DC)
  • 1957 – 1961             St. Stephen’s Martyr (Washington, DC)
  • 1961- 1966              St. Andrew the Apostle (Silver Spring, Maryland)
  • 1966 – 1971             Sacred Heart (Bushwood, Maryland)
  • 1966 – 1971             Holy Angels (Avenue, Maryland)
  • 1971 – 1972             St. Francis de Sales (Washington, DC)
  • 1972 – 1975             St. Matthias the Apostle (Lanham, Maryland)
  • 1975 – 1982             St. John the Evangelist (Clinton, Maryland)
  • 1983 – 1986             St. Hugh’s (Greenbelt, Maryland)
  • 1986 – 1995             Carroll Manor Nursing Home (Washington, DC)

Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father Thomas S. Schaefer:

According to media reports, in 1967, an allegation that Father Thomas S. Schaefer sexually abused a young boy at St. Andrew the Apostle was reported to the Archdiocese of Washington. He was temporarily removed, sent for evaluation, treatment, and eventually return to ministry.

In 1982, additional sexual abuse allegations were reported to the Archdiocese of Washington. According to prosecutors, from 1975 until 1981, Father Schaefer abused a 13-year-old boy who worked at St. John’s. Prosecutors also said that from 1979-1981, Father Schaefer sexually abused another boy at St. John’s.

Father Schaefer was again temporarily removed, sent for evaluation and treatment and in 1983, he was cleared for return to ministry. In 1986, Father Schaefer was removed from parish ministry permanently, according to the Archdiocese of Washington.

In January 1995, allegations of sexual abuse by Father Schaefer were reported to the Archdiocese of Washington by a local area businessman.

In February 1995, Father Schaefer was charged with engaging in sex acts with four boys at churches between 1972 and 1982.  Police said he abused two of the boys at St. Matthias Roman Catholic Church in Lanham in 1972.  One victim said Father Schaeffer would take him to his bedroom in the rectory or to a classroom in the parish’s school where they would engage in mutual masturbation and oral sex. In the classroom, the victim said, Father Schaeffer would show pornographic films on an 8mm projector and take nude photographs of the boy.

Father Schaeffer was also charged with abusing another boy between ages 16 and 18 in the early 1970s at the same church, a boy ages 12 to 13 in the late 1970s, and a 14-year-old in the early 1980s at St. John’s Catholic Church in Clinton.

In March 1995, the Archdiocese of Washington announced that Father Schaefer was one of four priests who admitted engaging in sex acts with an altar boy from age 11 to age 15  at St. Matthias Roman Catholic Church in Lanham during the 1970s and 1980s. Father Schaefer was described by a police source as the group’s “ringleader.”

Father Schaefer was also charged with four counts of sodomy for abusing another boy between March 1966 and February 1971. He was pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Bushwood. The boy was 11 years old when the abuse started.

In August 1995, Father Schaefer pleaded guilty to four counts of child abuse involving four boys.

In October 1995, Father Schaefer pleaded guilty to to sodomy and was sentenced to a 16 years for the sexual abuse of at least five boys in the 1970s and 1980s. One victim said he fought off bouts of depression and suicide for 30 years because Father Schaefer sexually assaulted him at least 200 times.

The judge reconsidered after he had served about 4.5 months and reduced the sentence to time served and treatment in Vianney Renewal Center in Missouri.

In 2003, an adult man accused Father Schaefer of sexually abusing and attempting to sodomize him as an eighth-grader in 1956. He was alleged to have groomed the boy in the rectory and to have attacked him during a wrestling match in the parish’s eighth-grade school building The abuse happened in 1966. He was Father Schaefer’s earliest known victim.

According to church officials, Father Schaefer sexually abused at least 21 boys. Only one other priest in the Archdiocese of Washington has more known victims.

In December 2006, at least one claim was included in a $1.3M settlement with the Archdiocese of Washington.

In July 2009, Father Schaefer died.

In October 2018, Father Schaefer’s name first appeared publicly on the Archdiocese of Washington’s list of clergy credibly accused of sex abuse of minors.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Washington.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Washington, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Archdiocese of Washington now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims. Call us at 888-283-9922 or send an email to [email protected] to discuss your options today.