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Retired Priest Faces Accusation

Nov 28, 2002 | AP

A recently retired Roman Catholic priest has been temporarily removed from ministry after being accused of sexual misconduct with a minor.

The Rev. Dan Wetzler was removed from ministry pending an investigation of the accusations, Bishop William Skylstad of the Spokane Diocese said in a news release Tuesday night.

Skylstad acted after conversations with both the accuser and Wetzler. Wetzler, who is living in Harrison, Idaho, denied the allegations, the diocese said.

Wetzler has been a priest for 39 years, mostly in the Spokane area.

The diocese sexual abuse review board will investigate and its decision will be referred to Skylstad. The decision will be made public, the diocese said. The case has also been reported to police.

Wetzler, 64, was ordained in 1963 and served in numerous capacities in Spokane, Tekoa, Rockford, Othello, Eltopia and Connell. He retired on July 1.

Wetzler's name had shown up on a list of priests kept by Molly Harding, one of the founders of the local Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests group.

The Spokane Diocese has already released the names of six other priests who have been accused of abuse, and turned the cases over to police. The diocese has also told police about allegations against six deceased priests, but has not released their names on the grounds that they are no longer in a position to hurt anyone.

Two Spokane police officials are reviewing the cases, some going back decades, to see if any can be prosecuted.

Wetzler's assignments as a priest were assistant pastor at Holy Ghost and St. Anthony Parish in Spokane; assistant pastor at St. Ann Parish and St. Thomas More Parish in Spokane; teacher and later associate director at Mater Cleri Seminary in Colbert; diocesan director of the Catholic Youth Organization in Spokane; chaplain of students and head of religion department at now-closed Marycliff High School in Spokane; pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Tekoa, St. Joseph Parish in Rockford, Sacred Heart Parish in Othello, St. Paul Parish in Eltopia, St. Vincent Parish in Connell and St. Paschal Parish in Spokane.

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