Fr. John Banko
Archdiocese of Baltimore/Trenton/Metuchen
Removed from ministry: 2000
- 1973-1974: St. Mary of the Lake (Lakewood, NJ)
- 1975-1980: St. Pius X High School (Piscataway, NJ)
- 1981-1982: St. John the Evangelist Church (Dunellen, NJ)
- 1983-1989: St. Charles Borromeo (Montgomery Twp., NJ)
- 1990-1995: St. Edward the Confessor Church (Milford, NJ)
- 1996-2000: Mary Mother of God Church (Hillsborough, NJ)
- 2001-2016: Prison
Summary of Abuse Allegations Against Father John Banko
Father John Banko was a Catholic priest who worked in the Archdiocese of Baltimore in Maryland and multiple parishes in the Diocese of Metuchen and Trenton, NJ. In 2002, Fr. Banko 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. Banko.
According to the AG’s report, in 1992, a victim reported that when he was 15 or 16 years old, in 1972, Fr. Banko made sexual advances toward him at St. Mary’s. Banko allegedly brought the victim back to his room at the seminary after they went to a movie where they drank alcohol together. Banko touched him inappropriately and propositioned him sexually. The boy said no aggressively, and Banko stopped, apologized, and asked him not to tell anyone.
In 2002, a victim reported that he was sexually abused by Banko from 1970 to 1980, beginning when he was seven years old. Banko was a seminarian in 1970, and the victim said the abuse happened in the seminary, the victim’s home in Homeland, and Banko’s car. The victim was a learning-disabled student at Boys’ Latin High School, and Banko was his religious studies teacher in a class affiliated with Boys’ Latin and taught either at Boys’ Latin or at St. Mary’s Seminary. Banko fondled him, massaged him, exposed himself, and orally raped him. After Banko left Baltimore, he returned to visit the victim’s family and abused the victim during those visits. The last visit was in 1980, and Banko came with another young boy. Banko attempted to touch the victim at a bar in Baltimore, but the victim pushed him away and told him never to touch him again.
Fr. Banko was accused of sexually abusing at least ten minor boys, some as young as six years old. Banko was criminally convicted for sexually abusing children in 2002 and 2008. According to media reports, in 2000, law enforcement began an investigation into Father Banko, known to his parishioners as “Father Jack,” after a former altar boy came forward with allegations of inappropriate touching and sexual assault. The victim alleged Father Banko had sexually molested him two consecutive Sundays after Mass between September 1993 and September 1994. He kept it secret until December 1999, after years of struggling with depression.
The prosecutor said that there were other similar allegations from other victims who had stepped forward during their investigation, but the crimes could not be prosecuted due to the statute of limitations expiring. At the trial on the first victim’s charges, three of the victims testified and recalled the abuse happening in a small changing room where they were forced to perform sexual acts on the priest. After testifying, the first victim said that Father Banko told him that his parents would be harmed if he ever told anyone about the abuse.
At trial, Father Banko testified in his own defense and denied all of the allegations but was convicted of all the charges against him: aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, and endangering the welfare of a child. Banko was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison. While in jail, additional criminal charges were filed, and Banko got an additional three years sentence.
In 2008, another allegation was made against the priest, who was charged with additional crimes. In that matter, The victim testified that between the ages of 9 and 10, Father Banko sexually assaulted him on more than one occasion. The victim didn’t tell anyone until he reported the abuse to his mother in 2005. Father Banko was found guilty of first-degree aggravated sexual assault and second-degree endangering the welfare of a child and sentenced to 26 more years. He was also determined to be a “repetitive and compulsive sexual offender” following an evaluation at Adult Diagnostic Center in Avenel. Banko was removed from ministry and died in prison in 2016.
In 2022, Maryland law enforcement agencies received complaints by two men claiming they were sexually molested decades ago by two Baltimore seminary students from St. Mary’s while on a camping trip and during overnight stays at the seminary. Banko was one of the men accused.
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.