St. Gertrude’s Shocker! Priest Accused of Sexual Misconduct and Embezzlement
St. Gertrude's Shocker!
Priest Accused of Sexual Misconduct and Embezzlement
By Gary G. Toms
The Rockaway community has been rocked by reports that a local priest at St. Gertrude's Church, located at 336 Beach 38 Street, had been placed there after resigning from a Queens parish for sexual and financial misconduct. Reverend John Thompson, who recently conducted Mass at the church, submitted his resignation at St. Elizabeth's parish, in Ozone Park, nearly two years ago amid allegations that he was engaged in a homosexual affair with an 18-year old man, identified only as "Jonathan", who was living in the rectory. The claims were made by Barbara Samide, who was hired two years ago to serve as the principal of the parish's elementary school.
According to published reports, Samide stated that in addition to Thompson having a homosexual relationship, the priest was using money that was earmarked for the elementary school to purchase expensive gifts for his lover and pay for trips to gay resorts in Florida. She noted that the school's budget was about $250,000 in the red, and Father Thompson got rid of the parish committee that was in charge of keeping an eye on tuition collection.
When she tried to approach the officials of the diocese to discuss her concerns, she was basically shunned, told to keep her mouth shut, or was told that the matter would be handled by church officials.
Fueled by the growing church scandal, Samide threatened to take the information she had to prosecutors, and it was only at that point that Father Thompson resigned. He was then shipped to St. Gertrude's Church, but he was not given an official title. It is not clear if the priest is still living at the rectory, as there are unconfirmed reports that the priest has left and is currently living with members of his family. Officials of the diocese have told the St. Elizabeth parishioners that Father Thompson is still considered a priest in good standing.
Samide has submitted statements to the Queen's District Attorney's office, and a grand jury panel is being selected to investigate the incidents at St. Elizabeth's.
The Wave placed calls to the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, but calls were not returned by press time.
The Wave also contacted St. Gertrude's Church to set up a meeting with Father Thompson and church officials to obtain statements, but he was not available for comment, and no one else at the church wanted to discuss the matter.