Fr. James Dowdy – Archdiocese of Baltimore

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2023 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Fr. James Dowdy

Archdiocese of Baltimore

James Dowdy Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1969

Assignment History:

  • 1969: St. John’s Parish (Hydes, MD) 
  • 1969-1971: St. Thomas Seminary (Kenmore, WA) 
  • 1971-1972: Church of the Annunciation 
  • 1972-1975: Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Woodlawn, MD) 
  • 1975-1980: St. Mark’s Parish (Catonsville, MD) 
  • 1980-1989: St. Jerome’s Parish (Baltimore, MD)
  • 1989-1990: Education Leave 
  • 1990: St. Matthew’s Parish 
  • 1990-1991: St. Patrick’s Parish (Havre de Grace, MD) 
  • 1991-1992: St. Elizabeth of Hungary (Baltimore, MD) 
  • 1992: Church of the Annunciation 
  • 1992-1993: St. Joseph’s Parish (Cockeysville, MD)
  • 1993: Placed on administrative leave; faculties removed 
  • 1997: Employment Separation 

Summary of Abuse Allegations Against Father James Dowdy

Fr. James Dowdy was ordained a Catholic priest in 1969 and worked in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. In 2002, Fr. Dowdy 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. Dowdy.

According to the AG’s report, Father Dowdy was placed on administrative leave in 1993 following reports of sexual abuse in the late 1970s – early 1980s. Dowdy admitted to sexually abusing two minors. The first report of misconduct by Dowdy was raised in November 1991. Notes from the time show concern for Dowdy’s “interest in and behavior with boys.” The notes describe incidents in which Dowdy grabbed or wrestled with a boy and another in which a boy was heard saying “stop it” to Dowdy. One incident involved Dowdy grabbing a kid from behind “and would not let him go.” Dowdy was questioned and acknowledged horseplay but denied any inappropriate contact with children. He admitted he might have pushed one of the boys “against the wall” or “into the corner.” He said he “grabs children’s necks, shoulders or knees at pressure points, just fooling around.” He asked who his “accusers” were and was told. He said he “suspected vindictiveness.” 

In 1993, a man reported that he was sexually abused by Fr. Dowdy when he was 16 and that it continued for eight years between 1976 and 1984. The man claimed that Dowdy kissed and inappropriately touched him on numerous occasions during that time. The abuse occurred when Dowdy was at St. Mark’s and St. Jerome’s. Dowdy was placed on administrative leave on October 18, 1993, and his ministerial faculties were removed. In 1996, the archdiocese agreed to pay the victim’s counseling and medication costs.

Dowdy attended inpatient counseling at St. Luke Institute from January 1994 through July 1994 and continued receiving treatment through March 1997. During his evaluation at St. Luke Institute, Dowdy disclosed several additional instances of sexual abuse of a child. He described two specific instances. In the first, he acknowledged “tickling episodes” with an 11-year-old boy “that led to the minor touching his genitals.” He said he had kissed and fondled that victim. In the second, Dowdy said there was a 14 to 16-year-old boy whom he fondled and kissed and with whom he engaged in mutual masturbation. The identities of these victims are not known. Dowdy described other instances of sexual misconduct more generally. He described “mutual fondling” with a seminary student when he was teaching after being ordained. He reported “hugging and kissing male high school students” when they came to him for spiritual guidance. He said that he had had sexual contact with many other males, both adolescents and adults, including a male sex worker who had come to Dowdy for counseling and to whom Dowdy gave money. The archdiocese made mandatory reports of this abuse to authorities. 

In February 2015, another man came forward and reported that when he was between nine and eleven years old in the early 1980s. The man alleges that Dowdy tied a vestment rope around him and, while both were clothed, pressed his erect penis against the boy. The man said that Dowdy had done the same to other boys. The archdiocese made the mandatory report of abuse to authorities.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by religious authority figures and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. If you need a lawyer because a member of a religious organization sexually abused you, contact us today at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help.