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What you need to know for 08/23/2017

UPDATED: Catholic priest arrested on child endangerment charges

UPDATED: Catholic priest arrested on child endangerment charges

A Roman Catholic priest formerly assigned to Corpus Christi Church has been arrested for having inap
UPDATED: Catholic priest arrested on child endangerment charges
Michael Taylor

Previous stories

Michael Taylor was a part of this Gazette story from October 2012: "Niskayuna school fetes namesake’s sainthood."

Taylor's ordination into the priesthood was also covered in this story: "Priesthood gains 2 in ornate ritual."

On the eve of his ordination two years ago, Rev. Michael Taylor spoke of the abuse scandal that rocked the clergy beginning in the early 2000s, just before his conversion to Catholicism.

"You learn that the frailties of the human condition exist even in the priesthood," Taylor told The Evangelist, the official publication of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. "There's something greater to Catholicism than its members. For some reason, I was able to see, 'This [crisis] isn't the faith.'"

On Wednesday morning, the Saratoga County Sheriff's Department announced that Taylor, a Niskayuna priest formerly assigned to Corpus Christi Church in Round Lake, had been arrested the day before, charged with having inappropriate contact with a 15-year-old girl.

James Michael Taylor, 30, commonly known as "Father Michael," is charged with endangering the welfare of a minor, a misdemeanor. Further charges could be pending.

The alleged conduct occurred between October 2013 and earlier this month, Sheriff Michael H. Zurlo said at a Wednesday news conference in Ballston Spa. The exact nature of the alleged misconduct has not been entirely specified, but Zurlo said the priest "engaged in an ongoing course of inappropriate conduct with a 15-year-old Clifton Park female involving physical contact, telephone calls, text messaging and photos,"

Taylor met the 15-year-old while serving as a deacon and youth minister at Corpus Christi, and the contact continued after he was ordained a priest and assigned as parochial vicar at Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Niskayuna, police said.

Our Lady of Fatima and St. Helen's merged in July 2012 as the Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish, until that October's Kateri canonization, when the parish became officially known as the Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Parish. Taylor gave police the parish's Union Street church address in Niskayuna as his home address.

A woman who answered the door at parish offices off Rosa Road said all media inquiries were to be directed to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. The diocese said in a statement it informed law enforcement of a complaint against a priest. According to the sheriff, the girl's family contacted the sheriff's office on Monday, leading to immediate action.

"The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany notified law enforcement authorities in Saratoga County Monday afternoon immediately after receiving a complaint concerning a Diocesan priest and his alleged contact with a minor," read the diocese statement, which went on to note Taylor was placed on administrative leave after his arraignment.

"The Albany Diocese will cooperate fully with the investigation," the diocese statement continued. "Sexual abuse is a crime and an egregious sin, and the Albany Diocese has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse of children by clerics. Any priest or deacon against whom an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is substantiated at any time is permanently removed from ministry."

A diocese spokesman declined an interview request for newly installed Bishop Edward Scharfenberger.

Taylor was arraigned before Clifton Park Town Justice James Hughes and released without bail. He is to return to court on May 14.

District Attorney James A. Murphy III said there's at least one other potential victim police are talking to, and the sheriff's office wants to hear from anyone else who may have had inappropriate contact with Taylor.

Murphy said there's no indication at this point of forced contact that could lead to a felony charge. "It is a course-of-conduct charge," he said of the misdemeanor. "She is 15, he is 30. Rather than a sexual offense, we believe at this point that this is the appropriate charge."

At the time of Taylor's ordination new reports stated he graduated from the University of Georgia, completing Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) requirements; he was a captain in the Army at the time he became a priest. He also studied theology at Siena College and Mundelein Seminary at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Chicago.

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