The long time athletic director at has been arrested on charges of unlawful contact with minors and corruption of minors, according to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Francis Murphy was arrested Friday and was being held on $250,000 cash bail.
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman announced the arrest Monday. Ferman said Murphy is charged with "Unlawful Contact or Communication with a Minor, Promoting Prostitution, Corruption of Minors, Attempted Corruption of Minors, and related offenses."
Ferman said the arrest follows an investigation that was launched after a male student filed a complaint alleging that Murphy made sexually suggestive comments to the student on Facebook.
According to the district attorney, Murphy was arrested Friday after police said he arranged to meet with Montgomery County detectives who posed as the boy. According to a press release issued by the district attorney "On Friday, April 15, 2011 Montgomery County Detective units set up surveillance at Frosty Falls Ice Cream in Bridgeport. At 10:35 a.m. a Francis Murphy arrived at Frosty Falls and was subsequently arrested in the parking lot."
The full press release from the District Attorney is available here.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia confirmed Murphy, who has been the school's athletic director since 1999, has been put on administrative leave "which means he is relieved of all duties related to his employment within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia," according to Diocese Communications Director Donna Farrell. In an updated press release Monday afternoon the diocese said that in addition to being the athletic director Murphy "has most recently served as the boys’ baseball coach and offensive coordinator of the football team."
Under the conditions set for bail, Murphy is not allowed to have contact with anyone under 18 or with any Carroll student if he is released. He is scheduled to go before a judge for a preliminary hearing next week.
According to Farrell, a letter was sent to school families via email Monday confirming the arrest. "The letter conveyed to parents how troubling this news is for the members of our school community," Archdiocese Superintendent Mary E. Rochford said. "It also reaffirmed our pledge to parents that the prevention of child abuse and protection of children is our primary concern."
Parents at several athletic events at fields on the school's Radnor campus expressed shock, sadness and concern. Many said they wanted to more time to learn about what happened.
Bruce Niccolo of Berwyn was watching his son, a junior, play baseball. "I really don't know what to think. All I got was the letter. You can't pass judgement on anybody based on that."
Several parents said they needed more information. One mother, who asked to be identified only as Lisa, had not read the email or heard the story before coming to watch her daughter play softball. She said, "It's very surprising and scary to me." She said it's a reminder about the realities of the Internet. "We'll have to talk to them tonight," she said of her three children.
Farrell said the letter sent to parents offers information for resources to help families who may want to contact the Victim Assistance Office for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
In a telephone interview, Farrell told Patch she did not know if anyone had contacted the Victim Assistance Office as of mid-afternoon. Farrell said the school "has received several calls in support."
The Archdiocese provided Patch with a copy of the letter sent to Archbishop Carroll families Monday. It reads as follows:
Dear Archbishop Carroll School Parents,
We are writing to inform you of a painful situation involving an administrator at our school. The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office has arrested Mr. Francis Murphy, the Athletic Director of Archbishop Carroll High School, and charged him with unlawful contact with minors and corruption of minors. These illegal acts were allegedly initiated through the internet.
Mr. Murphy is now on administrative leave, which means he is relieved of all duties within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He has been athletic director at Archbishop Carroll since 1999 and also has served as the boys’ baseball coach and offensive coordinator of the football team. He previously served as the boys’ baseball coach and assistant football coach at Kennedy-Kenrick High School from 1996 to 1998. All of the required criminal background checks and child abuse clearances were in place.
This is a very troubling situation for all members of our school community. Please know that we join with you in concern for the safety of all of our children. Information for parents on internet safety can be found on the following websites:
Federal Bureau of Information Parent Guide
Archdiocese of Philadelphia Office of Catholic Education Parent Resources www.catholicschools-phl.org
We would like to direct your attention to Creating a Network of Prevention and Protection http://bit.ly/OCEPreventionandProtection. This Archdiocesan brochure provides you with information on the Archdiocesan efforts to prevent child abuse.
Should you need additional information or assistance you can contact the Office of Child and Youth Protection of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at 1-888-800-8780 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We ask that you keep all of those involved in your prayers.
Father Edward Casey, President
Joseph L. Denelsbeck, Principal