A six-person panel commissioned by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis has begun its investigation into a woman’s allegation that a priest sexually abused her when she was a teen in the 1960s.
June L. Kochert filed a lawsuit last week against the archdiocese alleging that the Rev. John B. Schoettelkotte sexually abused her while he was a priest at St. Mary’s Church in New Albany.
A lawyer for Kochert, Kyle Williams, said Wednesday that at least one other woman with similar allegations against the priest is also considering legal action. That woman, who Williams did not identify, also claims she was abused by Schoettelkotte in the 1960s.
Kochert’s lawsuit said that she complained to church officials three times about Schoettelkotte — the first time in 1969 — but no action was taken against him until this year.
Schoettelkotte, 68, was placed on administrative leave in June after church officials said they substantiated an allegation that he had inappropriately touched a teenage girl more than 30 years ago.
Schoettelkotte remains on leave from his most recent assignment as pastor of two small parishes in southern Indiana’s Perry County, an archdiocese spokeswoman said.
The lawsuit claims the archdiocese is liable because church officials knew he had engaged in a pattern of sexually abusing young women but concealed it and did not report it to authorities. The suit offers no proof of those allegations. Kochert’s lawsuit alleges the abuse involved sexual touching that began when she was around 15 and lasted for about three years. The six-member panel held its first meeting Wednesday. It will investigate allegations against Schoettelkotte and other people — some of whom aren’t priests, but have served in other church roles, RTV6’s Kristi Tedesco reported.
The panel will report to the archbishop, who will decide what action to take within the archdiocese, Tedesco reported.