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Priest Quits After Investigation

Schoettelkotte, A Former Bloomington Priest, Is Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Feb 12, 2003 | Herald-Times

A Catholic priest with ties to the Bloomington area resigned Monday after an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.

The Rev. John B. Schoettelkotte, who was assigned to St. Paul Catholic Center from 1969 to 1973, will be permanently removed from ministry, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis said in a statement Monday.

Schoettelkotte, who had been on administrative leave since June 2002, resigned in response to the recommendations of the Archdiocesan Review Board and Indianapolis Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, the statement said.

His resignation followed an investigation by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis of several allegations that he had engaged in sexual misconduct with girls and women, the statement said.

The women involved in the investigation will not be identified, said archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Borcherts.

Father Dan Atkins of the St. Paul's Catholic Center said the church has been requested to refer anyone with allegations involving Schoettelkotte to the archdiocese.

He also referred all questions about Schoettelkotte to the archdiocese.

Schoettelkotte, 69, is named in a civil suit filed last year against the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and Archbishop Buechlein by June L. (Tanner) Kochert, who said the priest abused her for a period of three years in New Albany when she was 15 years old and planning to become a nun.

The complaint said the priest touched her inappropriately, and also photographed her wearing a bathing suit.

The woman filed a complaint with church officials in 1969, but no action was taken, the complaint said.

Schoettelkotte attempted to renew contact with her in 1971 after she moved to Bloomington, when he was assigned to St. Paul's, but she refused, the complaint said.

Kochert renewed her complaint last year after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' adopted a new sexual abuse policy.

The suit claims the archdiocese and archbishop were negligent in failing to take appropriate disciplinary action against Schoettelkotte, failed to inform and warn other young women and parents and failed to report the incident during the 1960s to the proper authorities.

It seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Attorney Kyle Williams said no trial date has been set in the case, which is in a negotiation stage.

"The lines of communication are open and both sides are seeking a way to resolve this," he said. "I will say it's comforting to hear this man will not be exercising priestly duties again. It's unfortunate it's taken this long."

Schoettelkotte, who no longer lives in the Bloomington area, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Church officials would not release information on where he is living now.

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