Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Priest under investigation resigns


Charges still unde consideration

By Dan Horn dhorn@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

kuhn
Kuhn
        A suspended priest resigned from his Dayton, Ohio, parish Monday as authorities neared a decision on whether to charge him with a crime for misusing church computers.

        The Rev. Thomas Kuhn, pastor at St. Henry's parish and a former principal of Elder High School, told church officials last week that he intended to resign because the investigation has “gone on too long.”

        “For the good of the people of the St. Henry parish I would ask you to accept my resignation as pastor,” Father Kuhn said in his letter to Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk.

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        Father Kuhn was placed on administrative leave three months ago when the Archdiocese of Cincinnati received a complaint about files found on church computers.

        The Montgomery County Sheriff's Department launched an investigation and recently submitted its findings to prosecutor Matt Heck. Mr. Heck's spokesman, Jim Knight, said prosecutors could decide within a week whether to charge Father Kuhn with a crime.

        Father Kuhn could not be reached for comment.

        Montgomery County prosecutors also are close to completing their investigation into old sexual abuse allegations involving other priests, Mr. Knight said. For several months, prosecutors have requested and received church records related to allegations that date back several years.

        “Our people have been reviewing information from the archdiocese,” Mr. Knight said. “Things are coming to a head.”

        A similar investigation into old abuse allegations is under way in Hamilton County, but prosecutors do not appear close to a decision in those cases.

        Although Father Kuhn's case remains under investigation, Archbishop Pilarczyk has said he has found no evidence that the priest did anything wrong.

        In a letter last week to Father Kuhn's replacement at St. Henry's, the archbishop indicated that he would accept Father Kuhn's resignation only because it is no longer possible for him to “function in the role of pastoral leadership.

        “As far as I am concerned,” the archbishop wrote, “Father Kuhn is guiltless of any misbehavior.”

        The archbishop did not reveal any details about the case, but he did express some frustration with the pace of the investigation. “I suspect that we all thought that the investigation would have been concluded by now,” Archbishop Pilarczyk wrote.

        Father Kuhn is one of four archdiocesan priests who have been suspended or voluntarily placed on leave since early this year. The other three all have been accused of sexual misconduct.

        Archbishop Pilarczyk has said that four other, unnamed priests also have been linked to past abuse allegations but remain employed by the archdiocese.

        Their cases are expected to be reviewed when the archdiocese forms a new advisory committee to study abuse by priests. Every archdiocese was required to create a committee as part of an agreement approved by U.S. bishops in June.

       



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