James Murphy: Substantiated Claims of Sexual Abuse of a Minor

James Murphy

Father James Robert Murphy was ordained in 1977 in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. In 1980 the Archdiocese was informed that Murphy appeared before a judge on criminal sexual conduct charges for touching a male squad officer in a bookstore. Murphy was placed on one year’s probation and ordered to have psychosexual testing and to be in contact with Archbishop Roach on a regular basis. In 1981 Murphy was assigned to Immaculate Conception parish in Faribault, MN.

In 1987 Father Murphy had a student living with him at the rectory at St. Lawrence parish in Faribault and entered Guest House for possible alcoholism or chemical dependency treatment. It was determined Fr. Murphy had an “inability to deal with his sexuality” and Church officials questioned whether “the problem was more of psycho-sexual nature.” In 1988 Murphy was sent to St. Luke Institute in Maryland for a 10-day evaluation.

Despite concerns about Father Murphy associating with adolescent boys and reports of strange young men leaving Murphy’s residence, Murphy was allowed to return to St. Lawrence. In June 1988 Archdiocesan officials suggested Father Murphy resign from his parish duties because of his “sexual liaison with boys.” Murphy allegedly resigned from St. Lawrence on June 14, 1988.

However, according to internal Church documents, he continued working at St. Lawrence and failed to cooperate with follow-up counseling and evaluations. Finally, on July 31, 1989, Father Murphy left Faribault and moved in with another accused child molester, Father Robert Thurner at St. Therese parish in St. Paul. Murphy was allowed to continue working on weekends at the parish until his counseling sessions were completed.

In December 1989 Father Murphy took a sabbatical and began working in the Diocese of Phoenix. The Bishop of Phoenix refused to incardinate Murphy and stated he did not believe in “geographical cures.” Father Murphy continued working in Arizona and applied for faculties in the Diocese of Tucson but was denied.

In 2002 in a letter from Father Kevin McDonough to the Faribault Catholic Community regarding another report of sexual abuse by Father Murphy, McDonough stated the Archdiocese was aware in the early 1990s of “second hand reports” of similar incidents. McDonough also stated “nothing added up to abuse but poor judgment was involved.”

Father James Murphy currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona. Father Murphy worked at the following locations:

  • 1977: Ordained in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, MN
  • 1977-1981: Assistant Pastor, St. Raphael, Crystal, MN
  • 1983-1989: Pastor, St. Lawrence, Faribault, MN
  • 1981-1989: Volunteer Chaplain, Bethlehem Academy, Faribault, MN