Rev. John P. ("J.P.") Blankenship

Summary of Case: Blankenship pleaded guilty in Jan. 2003 to having sexually abused a 14 year-old boy in 1982. The diocese knew about the accusation in 1988 when the victim reported it to them. Blankenship was sent to treatment at St. Luke's Institute in Maryland for seven months, followed by six years of outpatient treatment. He admitted his abuse of the boy, apologized, and paid for the boy's counseling and college education. Blankenship was kept in active ministry until August 2002. That same month Blankenship was indicted on charges of sodomizing the 1982 victim. The victim decided to press charges when he learned Blankenship was living in a parish, and might be "maneuvering his way back to working with children". Blankenship was sentenced to indefinite supervised probation. His victim stated that Bishop Sullivan told him the previous summer that he knew of another alleged Blankenship victim, who was by then deceased. Blankenship is a registered sex offender.

: 1963

Retired: Aug. 2002


Start Stop Parish/Assignment Town/Accusations State Position Notes

Richmond bishop was John Joyce Russell (1958-1973)
1965 Sacred Heart of Jesus Winchester VA Assistant Sacred Heart had a school with 108 boys and 106 girls.
1965 1967 St. Agnes Arlington VA Assistant St. Agnes had a school.
1967 1968 St. Mary Star of the Sea Fort Monroe VA Assistant St. Mary's had a school with 152 boys and 175 girls.
1967 1968 St. Joseph's Buckroe Beach VA   This was a mission of St. Mary's in Fort Monroe.
1968 1969 St. Rose of Lima Hampton VA Assistant St. Rose's was affiliated with Central Elementary School, which drew from several parishes. It had 575 students.


Burlington bishop was Robert Francis Joyce (1956-1971)

1970 Christ the King Burlington VT Assistant Christ the King had a school with 378 students.
1970 1973 St. Mary's Richmond VA Assistant St. Mary's had a school with 321 students.


Walter Francis Sullivan replaced Russell as Richmond bishop (1974-2003)

1977 St. John's Highland Springs VA Pastor; only priest  
1977 1984 Sacred Heart of Jesus

New Bohemia

Blankenship admitted when confronted in 1988 that he had sexually abused a 14 year-old boy in 1982. The victim said the abuse occurred over a six month period in the parish house. As Sacred Heart parishioners, the boy and his family regularly volunteered to help with chores around the church and parish house.

VA Pastor; only priest Blankenship apologized to the victim and paid for the boy's counseling and college education.
May 1983 2002 Federal Correctional Institution Petersburg VA Chaplain

Blankenship is not indexed in the 1985 through 1990 Directories.

Per news reports, Blankenship was sent to St. Luke's Institute in Silver Spring, MD, for psychiatric treatment in 1988 after a young man told the archdiocese Blankenship sexually abused him in 1982, when the man was 14 years old. Blankenship is said to have been at St. Luke's for seven months, followed by six years of outpatient treatment. Also per media reports, Blankenship served as Chaplain at the Federal Correctional Institute from May 1983 until he was removed from active ministry in 2002.

1996 1998 St. Ann's Petersburg VA In residence.  
  2002 St. James' Hopewell VA In residence.  


Francis Xavier DiLorenzo succeeded Sullivan (2004-)

2004 Retired Richmond VA  

Blankenship was forced into retirement in August 9, 2002 due to his having sexually abused a 14 year-old boy in 1982.

He was indicted in August 20, 2002 on four counts of sodomizing a teenage boy in 1982. Police said the victim decided to press charges because he was concerned that Blankenship was "maneuvering his way back to working with children". The victim had learned that Blankenship was in residence at St. James'.

Blankenship pleaded guilty in January 2003 and was sentenced to indefinite supervised probation. His victim stated that Bishop Sullivan told him in the summer of 2002 that another person had come forward with allegations against Blankenship. That accuser was, by then, deceased.

2004 2005

      Blankenship is not indexed in the 2005 Directory.
2005 2007 Retired        
2007 2011         Blankenship is not indexed in the 2008 through 2010 Directories. A 2011 google search shows him to be a registered sex offender with a Richmond, VA address.


Source: Official Catholic Directory (New York: P.J. Kenedy and Sons, 1964-2007)

Petersburg Priest Is Expelled for Abuse, By Steven G. Vegh, Virginian-Pilot(Norfolk, Va.), August 10, 2002
Priest Forced to Retire Worked in Hampton, By Michael D. Wamble, Daily Press, August 10, 2002
2nd Priest Forced to Retire, By Alberta Lindsey, Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia), August 10, 2002
Catholic Priest Indicted on Sodomy Charges, Associated Press State & Local Wire, August 20, 2002
Retired Longtime Priest Indicted, By Alberta Lindsey, Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia), August 21, 2002
Retired Va. Priest Indicted in Abuse Accuser Informed Officials after Learning Cleric Was, By Michael D. Wamble, Daily Press (Newport News, VA), August 21, 2002
Former Warden Says He Was Not Told of Allegation, Associated Press State & Local Wire, August 31, 2002
Va. Priest Pleads Guilty to Abusing Boy, Associated Press Online, January 31, 2003
Priest Who Abused Boy Avoids Jail, Term Suspended for 20 Years, By Tom Campbell, Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia), February 1, 2003
Retiring Bishop Discusses Sex Scandal and Changes in Church, WAVY [Virginia], Downloaded May 17, 2003
19 Priests in Richmond Were Accused/ in 52 Years, 24 People Made Allegations of Sex Abuse, Diocese Says, Richmond Times, Dispatch (Virginia), February 28, 2004

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Blankenship's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with allegations as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegation we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on Dec. 1, 2011

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