Already dealing with fallout from sex scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, it was particularly embarrassing and distressing for archdiocesan officials to learn that one of their priests had been convicted of sex crimes while actively serving a parish.
“I think it’s additionally painful to the Catholic community in the context of the Church’s sexual abuse (cases) nationally and locally,” archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco said Tuesday.
Raymond Larger was suspended as pastor of Our Lady of Visitation in Mack following a Tuesday meeting with Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk.
Larger was arrested at 9 p.m. July 23 in a Dayton park by an undercover police officer and charged with two counts of public indecency for grabbing the officer’s groin and exposing himself.
In a July 25 court hearing, Larger pleaded no contest, was convicted, given a 30-day suspended jail sentence, ordered to pay a $100 fine, $58 in court costs and serve one year on unsupervised probation.
Archdiocese officials, though, knew none of that until days after Larger’s conviction.
“At that time, we had the charges, made some further inquiries, some phone calls and got hold of the police report,” Andriacco said Tuesday.
Andriacco’s comments came after Pilarczyk and Auxiliary Bishop Carl Moeddel met Tuesday with Larger and accepted his resignation as Our Lady of Visitation pastor.
Pilarczyk’s decision to place Larger on indefinite administrative leave was a response, Andriacco admitted, to loud and numerous complaints from Larger’s flock.
“There is anger. Many parishioners have communicated that to us,” Andriacco said. “There is a lot of hurt and anger in the parish. The parish is suffering a lot.
“I would like for people to understand we received and understand their concerns.”
That is a reason, Andriacco added, that Pilarczyk took the strongest action an Archbishop can in placing Larger on paid administrative leave.
More severe punishment against Larger has to come from a power other than the archbishop.
“The only way he can be removed permanently is either by making an application to the Vatican himself or being subject to a canonical trial,” Andriacco said.
That church trial is secret, he added, because it is analogous to a criminal grand jury proceeding.
“(It’s secretiveness) is to protect priests from the capriciousness of bishops who may not like them,” Andriacco said.
Andriacco said some priests are on leave for 10 years or more while some, upset with having no duties, quit.
“We’re not happy about having to continue to pay people while they are on administrative leave,” Andriacco said, “Frankly, priests only make in the low $20 (thousands).”
Our Lady of Visitation’s associate pastor has been named temporary administrator of the parish.
Sex scandals aren’t new to the archdiocese.
In June, suspended priest Kenneth Schoettmer pleaded guilty to fondling a 17-year-old boy in a June 1999 incident at Clifton’s Esquire Theatre and was given probation.
Schoettmer, 61, is the former pastor of Queen of Peace Church in Millville.
Defrocked priest George Cooley currently faces eight charges of sexually touching children in Hamilton County.
And prosecutors are battling with the archdiocese trying to get information on allegations of priests’ sexual crimes, information the archdiocese contends is private.