Monday, June 24, 2002

Ex-diocese employees claim abuse

By Stephenie Steitzer,
Jennifer Mrozowski
and Jim Hannah

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — A 44-year-old Burlington man claims in a lawsuit that he was sexually abused in the 1970s by a now-deceased priest and in the 1980s by a Lexington bishop who resigned this month after similar allegations.

        Diocese of Covington groundskeeper Mark DiMuzio and his father, John DiMuzio, 64, who was a maintenance director for the diocese for 42 years, also say in a lawsuit Friday in Kenton County Circuit Court that they were exposed to a “sexually charged workplace.”

        They say the diocese harassed and fired them when they complained, a claim the diocese disputes.

        The Rev. Gerald Reinersman, the diocese's chancellor, said the DiMuzios brought allegations of sexual abuse to him in March.

        “When the allegations were brought to me, I responded to them appropriately,” he said.

        The lawsuit claims Mark DiMuzio was physically and sexually abused while he was an altar boy at Mary Queen of Heaven Church in Erlanger in 1971-72 by the Rev. Paul Ciangetti, who died in 1995.

        Father Reinersman said he tried to help Mr. DiMuzio “heal,” but he would not disclose how because he considered it a pastoral matter.

Click here for all Enquirer reports on accusations or actions against local priests.
        He said he took that complaint to the diocese's misconduct committee and told members he had started helping Mr. DiMuzio.

        The committee decided since Father Ciangetti was dead, nothing more could be done.

        The lawsuit also claims Mark DiMuzio was physically and sexually abused while he was a maintenance worker in 1986-87 by Bishop J. Kendrick Williams, who resigned this month as head of the Diocese of Lexington after similar allegations were raised about his tenure as a priest in Louisville.

        The lawsuit states that Bishop Williams, who was an auxiliary bishop in Covington at the time of the alleged abuse, “made sexual demands through the form of letters, cards and innuendos” throughout and after the abuse stopped.

        Prior to becoming bishop in Lexington, Bishop Williams served four years in Covington, performing administrative duties.

        Church officials in Covington told The Cincinnati Enquirer this month that Bishop Williams had a good reputation and a clean personnel record during his stay in Northern Kentucky. During his resignation, he denied allegations brought against him by three men.

        Father Reinersman said he didn't pursue the allegations against Bishop Williams because Mr. DiMuzio was an adult at the time of the alleged abuse.

        The father and son further allege that after being exposed to sexual torment, battery, fondling and sexually lewd and perverse behavior, they were denied wages and benefits, criticized in performances and fired in March.

        Father Reinersman said he suggested Mark DiMuzio should leave his position in the diocese for several reasons that he declined to explain. He added that his suggestion was not to keep him quiet or because of the allegations of abuse.

        “Their employment and these allegations are two completely separate issues,” he said. “Neither one of them was fired.”


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