Retired, 90-year-old Mississippi Catholic priest removed after 1950s child sex allegation surfaces

Published 7:56 am Tuesday, July 30, 2019

A 90-year-old, retired Catholic priest who served nearly half a century in Mississippi was removed from public ministry this week after an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct that occurred in the 1950s.

Bishop Joseph Kopacz removed the Rev. Edward Balser after what the church described as a credible allegation of abuse was discovered when the church was preparing files for the release of a list of clergy accused of sexually abusing minors.

The allegation against Balser, who retired in 2003, says the abuse first occurred in 1953 and continued for a number of years including after he was ordained in 1956. The female victim was a minor during the duration of the abuse, the church reported.

The church reported that the inappropriate touching did not involve sexual intercourse.

Balser served in parish ministry for 47 years in Jackson, Pearl and Flowood.

The church says this is the only known allegation made against him.

The file with the allegation against Balser was discovered in January, reviewed by a diocesan board and deemed credible. The board recommended Balser be removed.

Balser appealed the decision. His appeal was reviewed and ultimately denied.

Balser’s name will be added to the list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor. (https://jacksondiocese.org/offices/childprotection/clergy-and-religious-credibly-accused-of-abuse/).

Balser will no longer be allowed to function publicly as a priest.

Anyone who has been a victim of abuse or exploitation by clergy, religious or lay church personnel and has not yet reported it is encouraged to do so. The Victim Assistance Coordinator, Valerie McClellan, and Safe Environment Coordinator, Vickie Carollo, are available to assist in making a report. The contact number for the Victim Assistance Coordinator is 601.326-3728. The contact number for the Safe Environment Coordinator is 601.960-8471.