Thursday, September 27, 2001

Charges unlikely against priest

Archdiocese now must deal with sex allegations

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Although a Millville priest who admitted to sex acts with three minors probably won't face criminal charges, he still faces action by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, authorities said Wednesday.

        The Butler County Sheriff's Office has fully investigated the allegations involving the Rev. Ken Schoettmer, but all three cases are too old to prosecute under Ohio law, said sheriff's Lt. Greg Blankenship.

        “The message I'd like to get out is if people know or suspect something like that, let us know so it can be investigated in a timely manner,” he said.

        Father Schoettmer, who had been assigned to Queen of Peace parish in Hanover Township, has been on paid administrative leave since June. He had admitted wrongdoing to his parishioners and to Butler County sheriff's investigators.

        Two of the incidents occurred between 1984 and 1987; a six-year time limit for prosecuting those potential felonies has expired. However, even the most recent case, involving a Hamilton County teen in 1999, is too old, Lt. Blankenship said. He explained that the incident occurred after the teen turned 16, so the applicable charge would be only a misdemeanor — which carries a two-year time limit for prosecution.

        Now it's up to the archdiocese to decide what treatment the priest should receive and what to do about his status with the church, said Dan Andriacco, archdiocese spokesman.

        “The fact that the case is not going to be pursued legally does not alter the fact that he has confessed to wrong behavior,” Mr. Andriacco said.

        Father Schoettmer has undergone a psychological evaluation, “so the next step is to determine if there is going to be a course of treatment,” Mr. Andriacco said.

        The archdiocese also must decide “what is going to happen with his ministry,” Mr. Andriacco said. Determining what penalties the priest might face involves a complex process under church law, he explained.

        In any case, Mr. Andriacco said that the priest “certainly will never be in a ministry that involves children.”


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