Monday, April 29, 2002

Tristate priest admits abuse

Price Hill native resigns as Dayton pastor

By Randy Tucker,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Catholic priest in Dayton, Ohio, who served Cincinnati area parishes and schools for a decade, has been placed on administrative leave after admitting to sexually abusing a boy at an Ohio parish years ago.

        The Rev. Thomas Hopp, a 61-year-old Price Hill native, resigned Wednesday as pastor of Queen of Martyrs Church after confirming an abuse allegation reported to Archdiocese of Cincinnati officials by the victim.

   The Rev. Thomas Hopp, a Price Hill native, has served at parishes and schools across Greater Cincinnati during his 36-year career:
   • 1966: Ordained in Cincinnati.
   • 1966-71: Assistant at Holy Family and teacher at Archbishop Alter High School, both in Dayton.
   • 1971-73: Assistant at St. Dominic, Delhi Township, and teacher at Seton High School, Price Hill.
   • 1973-76: Associate at All Saints, Kenwood.
   • 1976-77: Academic dean at St. Gregory's Seminary, Mount Washington.
   • 1977: Pro-tem associate at St. Teresa, Springfield, and pro-tem administrator at St. Augustine, Cincinnati
   • 1977-80: Campus minister at Edgecliff College (now merged with Xavier University), Evanston, through 1980; associate at Assumption in Walnut Hills and St. Francis de Sales in East Walnut Hills through 1978.
   • 1979: Associate at St. Monica, University Heights.
   • 1980: Pro-tem administrator at St. Michael, Fort Loramie, Ohio.
   • 1981: Rector, former Holy Spirit Chapel, a small church in downtown Cincinnati that was purchased and razed by Procter & Gamble.
   • 1981-83: Pastor, St. Denis, Versailles, Ohio.
   • 1983-95: Pastor, Holy Family, Dayton.
   • 1995-present: Pastor, Queen of Martyrs, Dayton.
   Source: Archdiocese of Cincinnati
        “In recent weeks we received a letter from a man who is now in his 30s to inform us that he had been abused by Father Hopp when he was a minor,” Dan Andriacco, spokesman for the archdiocese, said Sunday.

        The archdiocese received permission from the victim, who now lives in Florida, to confront Father Hopp with the allegation, and he “conceded that it was essentially true,” Mr. Andriacco said.

        On Sunday, an interim pastor at Queen of Martyrs read a letter from Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk at Mass, in which he apologized to the victim and parishioners.

        “I am deeply sorry that this has happened,” the archbishop's letter said. “I know that this news will bring pain and sorrow to your parish community. Please know that I suffer with you.”

        The apology comes as Catholic cardinals nationwide were reporting back after a two-day gathering in Rome where they agreed to a process that would defrock any priest who becomes “notorious and is guilty of the serial, predatory sexual abuse of minors.”

        Father Hopp, who was ordained in Cincinnati in 1966, had served in parishes from Delhi Township to Kenwood to East Walnut Hills, and at Seton High School during his tenure. He left Cincinnati area parishes in 1981 for assignments in Versailles, Ohio, and then to Dayton.

        Archdiocese officials Sunday refused to divulge when or where the abuse took place or the nature of the alleged incidents.

        “We have decided to not make public where it took place because of the pastoral sensitivity to the victim's family, who still live in that area,” Mr. Andriacco said.

        The abuse allegations have been turned over to the prosecutor's office in the “county in which it occurred,” he said, but the archdiocese would not reveal which county's prosecutor is handling the case.

        The archdiocese covers 19 counties in southwest Ohio.

        Neither Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen, who would have jurisdiction over crimes in Cincinnati, nor Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias Heck Jr., who handles Dayton, could be reached for comment Sunday.

        The archdiocese Sunday urged anyone who has been abused by Father Hopp or any other cleric, employee or volunteer of the archdiocese to report it to police or to church authorities.

        Mr. Andriacco said reporting the allegations against Father Hopp to authorities was not part of the Roman Catholic Church's new get-tough policies toward offending priests in the wake of allegations nationwide of priests molesting children.

        He said it is “standard procedure” to notify authorities when there has been a “substantiated allegation” of child abuse by a priest.

        Last month, Archbishop Pilarczyk said “fewer than five” archdiocese priests have been accused of sexual misconduct with teens and are still serving in priestly roles.

        The revelation led Mr. Allen to ask the archdiocese to turn over the names of the priests and any documents pertaining to the complaints against them. Later, Mr. Allen subpoenaed Archbishop Pilarczyk and another church official to testify about the cases after he didn't think the church was cooperating fully.

        The Rev. Mr. Hopp, who is not among the less than five priests the archbishop referred to, has been relieved of all priestly duties and must undergo a psychological evaluation before the archdiocese takes any further action, Mr. Andriacco said.

        Meanwhile, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, at its June meeting in Dallas, is expected to vote on whether to approve a national policy that will be binding on every diocese.


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