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5 Diocese Priests Could Be Removed

Ex-Associate Pastor of St. Albert the Great Among Them

Dec 20, 2002 | Dayton Daily News

Church officials are preparing reports to send to the Vatican that could result in the removal of five Roman Catholic priests accused of sexual misconduct in the Cincinnati archdiocese that includes the Dayton area, the archbishop said.

A spokesman for Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk said Thursday that the new sexual abuse policy approved this week by the Vatican requires Roman Catholic bishops to begin administrative proceedings against accused priests.

After reports about each priest are prepared and submitted, the Vatican will either recommend the priest’s removal or order an ecclesiastical trial to decide his fate if the priest denies the allegations. There is no deadline or timeline for preparing the reports, an archdiocese spokesman said Thursday.

Five priests who remain employed by the 19-county Cincinnati archdiocese would be the first in the archdiocese investigated under the the new Vatican policy. The five include the Rev. Larry Strittmatter, formerly associate pastor of St. Albert the Great Church in Kettering, according to an archdiocese spokesman.

Neither Pilarczyk nor an archdiocese spokesman would identify the other four priests.

Strittmatter was placed on leave in June amid new allegations of sexual misconduct after having previously been restored to ministry after an earlier case. The new allegations involved a period when Strittmatter served as principal of Elder High School in Cincinnati from 1970 to 1982.

The archbishop has said the five priests have been allowed to remain with the church because they are not in contact with children and pose no threat to the public. The new abuse policy requires church officials to remove them if the allegations are proven.

Three additional priests have been suspended or have voluntarily taken leave this year because of misconduct allegations.

The Vatican’s approval of the new policy is expected to lead to a resolution of three sex abuse cases in the Columbus area.

Bishop James Griffin waited for Vatican approval of the policy before deciding cases of two priests. Both have admitted having improper contact with a teenage boy at least 20 years ago.

A board of review has not considered the case of a third priest, who has denied wrongdoing.

In Toledo, a seven-member board met two weeks ago for the first time to look into sexual abuse allegations against clergy. It recommended that a priest be removed from the ministry over allegations that he sexually abused at least one boy in the 1970s.

In Cincinnati, Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen has criticized church officials for not notifying authorities about the old abuse allegations and is investigating the conduct of the priests and the archdiocese.

In a new development Thursday, a judge ruled that the archdiocese must turn over nearly 100 documents to Allen’s office that he wants to examine as part of his investigation. The 1st Ohio District Court of Appeals, at the request of the archdiocese, stayed the ruling until it can decide what documents should be released.

Staff writer Mark Fisher and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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