Br. James Avant
Archdiocese of Baltimore/Capuchins
- 1972: Morgan State University (Baltimore, MD)
- 1972-1978: St. Martin (Baltimore, MD)
- 1979-1984: Charles Lwanga Center (Baltimore, MD)
Summary of Abuse Allegations Against Brother James Avant
Brother James Avant was a Catholic priest of the Capuchin Order who worked in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. In 2002, Fr. Avant was listed on the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Credibly Accused of Sexual Abuse of Minors list. In April 2023, Maryland’s Attorney General released a report alleging 156 Catholic clergy members sexually abused at least 600 children over six decades. The report lists the names of the abusers, including Fr. Avant.
According to the AG’s report, in 1993, a woman that worked in St. Martin’s rectory reported that her son was sexually abused by Br. Avant in the early 1970s at St. Martin’s rectory when her son was in the 8th grade. Her son claims that other boys were sexually abused as well and even described orgies in Avant’s room. The woman says her son was sick and did not want to discuss the abuse. Her son believed the pastor at St. Martin knew “what was going on.” He has since died. The archdiocese notified the Provincial of the Capuchin-Franciscan Friars in November 1993. As documented in a memorandum to file in 1993, Wiethorn said that “he was not surprised that this would have happened and that most of the Friars felt that [Avant] was capable of this.”
In January 1995, Philip Fink, the Provincial Vicar of the Capuchin-Franciscan Friars, wrote to Avant and said he learned of the reported abuse a year prior. He said he would alert the Diocese of Pittsburgh and begin an investigation. He also noted that “it is clear with this allegation that there is no possibility of you ever being engaged in public ministry in the future… Given the current climate, the liability would be just too great.” He asked Br. Avant to request a dispensation.
In March 1995, Fink wrote to the woman that reported the abuse (the victim’s mother) and said that he first learned of the abuse in December and that Avant was not a member in good standing with the Capuchin community. Although Avant denied abusing the victim, he was asked to officially request to leave the Order and ministry in the Catholic Church. Avant left the order in 1990. Avant was listed as credibly accused by the Archdiocese in 2002.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Baltimore in Maryland. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Maryland, contact our office today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help. Contact us at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today.