Enquirer Special Section
Priests and Sexual Misconduct
Eight priests in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and two priests who formerly served in the Diocese of Covington have been suspended and/or accused of misconduct in a scandal that has swept across the country. At least 225 of the nation's more than 46,000 Roman Catholic priests have either been dismissed from their duties or resigned since January.
 
R E S O U R C E S
  • U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Archdiocese of Cincinnati
  • The Catholic Telegraph

E N Q U I R E R   S T O R Y   A R C H I V E
2003 STORIES

Nov. 18: Clergy abuse inquiry on hold
A grand jury investigation into clergy sexual abuse was put on hold Monday as Hamilton County prosecutors and lawyers for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati discussed a possible settlement.

Aug. 23: Archbishop suspends 3 priests
Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk says his decision to suspend three priests Monday closes one of the most difficult and painful chapters of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in Southwest Ohio.

Aug. 12: Lawsuit: More abuse at Elder
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati knew of several allegations of sexual abuse against former Elder High principal Rev. Lawrence Strittmatter more than two decades ago but didn't remove him from priestly duties until a year ago, according to a lawsuit by six men who say they were abused by the priest.

Aug. 11: 2 priests suspended; more allegations arise
Two priests were relieved of their duties at a parish near Dayton, and an attorney said he would add six plaintiffs to a lawsuit alledging abuse by a former Elder High principal.
Text of the archbishop's statement

Aug. 10: Troubles test parishioners' trust
In west-side Catholic neighborhoods, a series of church scandals - from embezzlement to child abuse - is testing people's faith like never before, and some are expressing their disappointment by withholding donations.

Aug. 6: Priest resigns after verdict
The Rev. Raymond Larger, found guilty of soliciting an undercover male police officer for sex in a Dayton, Ohio, park last month, resigned as pastor of Our Lady of Visitation parish.

June 12: Schottmer pleads guilty, won't face jail time
The Rev. Ken Schoettmer became the first Greater Cincinnati priest in nearly a decade to be convicted of abusing a child when he pleaded guilty Wednesday to molesting a 17-year-old boy.

May 22: Ex-Elder principal accused in lawsuit
The Rev. Lawrence Strittmatter, a former Elder High School principal, molested "several dozen" students at the school, according to a lawsuit by four former students who say they were victims.

May 21: Church accused of hiding evidence
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati was accused Tuesday of withholding documents that were supposed to have been turned over as part of an investigation into sexual abuse allegations.

Mar. 22: Two ex-priests indicted on sex abuse
Two former Catholic priests - George Cooley and Ken Schoettmer - were indicted Friday on charges of sexually abusing boys while working at churches in Greater Cincinnati.

Mar. 13: Diocese must open its files
A Boone County judge has ordered the Diocese of Covington to open its archive to a Cincinnati attorney Stanley Chesley, who thinks the contents will show the diocese did not take proper steps to prevent priests from abusing children.

Feb. 28: Diocese's list of victims sought
Cincinnati lawyer Stanley Chesley sought to compel the Diocese of Covington to release a "secret archive" containing names of people who have complained of sexual abuse by priests.

Jan. 12: Archbishop addresses sex abuse crisis
Scandals involving the sexual abuse of children by priests have been plaguing the Roman Catholic Church nationally and in Greater Cincinnati. Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk recently sat down with the Enquirer Editorial Board to discuss these issues.

2002 STORIES

Dec. 19 Priests face church action
Catholic church officials will soon take administrative action that could result in the removal of five Greater Cincinnati priests accused of sexual misconduct.

Dec. 3: Archdiocese faces suspicion
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati and its lawyers may have failed to report sexual abuse allegations despite an Ohio law that requires them to do so, Hamilton County prosecutors said.

Nov. 14: RADEL: U.S. bishops failed to put kids first
Even though I am not a member of the flock, the more I read about the changes America's Roman Catholic bishops made to their rules for dealing with priests who molest children, the angrier I get.

Nov. 14: Bishops OK policy on abuse
WASHINGTON - U.S. Roman Catholic bishops overwhelmingly approved a compromise sex abuse policy Wednesday after the Vatican demanded they make changes to balance fairness to priests with compassion for victims.

Nov. 12: Pilarczyk: New policy tough enough
Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk says the Catholic church's new policy on sexual misconduct is still tough enough to weed out abusive priests, despite recent changes by the Vatican.

Nov. 12: U.S. bishops consider revised abuse policy
The head of the nation's Roman Catholic bishops pleaded for unity within the church as prelates prepared to adopt a sex abuse policy that they promised will get offending clergy out of public ministry.

Nov. 5: More time sought for grand jury
Hamilton County prosecutors asked a judge to give them five more months to complete an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Catholic priests.

Sept. 26: Anti-abuse class in schools
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati will launch a child abuse prevention program this year, part of its effort to update church policies in the wake of sexual abuse scandals nationwide.

Sept. 10: Priest under investigation resigns
The Rev. Thomas Kuhn, former Elder High principal, resigned from his Dayton, Ohio, parish Monday as authorities neared a decision on whether to charge him with a crime for misusing church computers.

July 15: Covington diocese, priests accused in suit
Northern Kentucky's notorious former priest Earl Bierman and another priest who reported to the Diocese of Covington have been accused again - in sealed court documents that are part of a $50 million class-action lawsuit.

July 14: Church money tight, but scandal isn't why
Wall Street's poor performance - not backlash from sex abuse by priests - is being blamed for recent financial losses in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the Diocese of Covington.
No decrease in offerings

July 10: Accused priest seeks defrocking
The Rev. Louis J. Holtz, 73, a Northern Kentucky priest under suspension for allegedly abusing a minor in the early 1970s, has asked to be defrocked, Diocese of Covington officials said.

July 9: Special grand jury created
Hamilton County prosecutors has convened a special grand jury to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct by Catholic priests.

June 30: Lawsuit against priest dismissed
A man's lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by a priest at Cathedral of Christ the King has been dismissed in Fayette County Circuit Court.

June 24: Ex-diocese employees claim abuse
A 44-year-old Burlington man claims in a lawsuit that he was 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.

June 23: Accusers must name names, judge rules
Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Catholic dioceses of Lexington and Covington must reveal their identities and those of their alleged sexual abusers as well as give specifics of their allegations, a judge has ruled.

June 18: 5 more claim ex-Elder principal had sexual contact
Five more Elder High School alumni have alleged that the Rev. Lawrence Strittmatter had inappropriate physical contact with them during or after racquetball games at a private club, attorney Konrad Kircher said.

June 15: Deal made, but priest still not defrocked
Bernard “Bernie” Gerhardstein says he promised to keep quiet about being abused as a boy by Rev. Louis J. Holtz in rural Campbell County because the priest agreed to be defrocked, or kicked out of the clergy. He hasn't. And now Gerhardstein is breaking his silence, alleging that the Covington diocese and the priest have not kept their word.

June 15: Archbishop: policy is tough
Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk says the Catholic church's new policy on sexual misconduct is tough and uncompromising when applied to abusive priests.

June 14: Bishops vote to separate - not oust - abusive priests
American bishops adopted a policy today that will bar sexually abusive clergy from face-to-face contact with parishioners but keep them in the priesthood. Victims reacted with outrage.

June 14: Bishop's words restore faith
The leader of America's Catholic bishops declared Thursday that sexual abuse scandals have created “a rupture in our relationship with the faithful.” Catholics in Cincinnati say it's about time the bishops noticed.

June 13: Priest's accuser tells his story
Bob Fricke says the Rev. Lawrence Strittmatter, then principal of Elder High School, had inappropriate physical contact with him while he was a senior there in 1979-80.

June 12: Some in parish stand by Strittmatter
Diane Kolleck, who grew up in Western Hills, can't stop loving the Rev. Larry Strittmatter — no matter what he may have done wrong.

June 11: Priests' names still secret
Catholic church officials say they will continue to keep secret the names and assignments of four Greater Cincinnati priests who have a history of sexual misconduct.

June 10: Another ex-Elder principal put on leave
The Rev. Lawrence Strittmatter, Elder High School principal from 1970 to 1982, was placed on administrative leave from St. Albert the Great parish in Kettering after a former Elder student complained that he was sexually abused in the late 1970s.

June 10: Parishioners learn of allegations
Parishioners at St. Albert the Great were not told before this weekend of Rev. Larry Strittmatter's past, said the Rev. James Manning, the parish pastor.

June 9: Ky. dioceses lead in lawsuits
More than 120 lawsuits have been filed against Roman Catholic dioceses in Kentucky, the most in any state.

June 9: Priest target of 48 suits
The Rev. Louis E. Miller, who served four decades in the Archdiocese of Louisville, is accused of sexually abusing minors in 48 lawsuits since mid-April.

June 7: Accused priest served in N.Ky.
The Rev. Bill Fedders, accused in a sexual abuse lawsuit, served for 15 years in Northern Kentucky and taught at three Catholic schools in the area.

June 7: Peter Bronson Column: Seminary denies gay subculture
Does a great moral evil lurk in the sunlit halls and gardens behind massive stone walls at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Cincinnati?

June 5: Reaction mixed on abuse proposal
Lifelong Catholic Teresa Steinmetz says a proposal by a U.S. bishops panel Tuesday to defrock priests who have sexually abused multiple children should have been made policy long ago.

May 31: Peter Bronson column: A story of 'evil' in the church
The media won't touch it. The Catholic Church won't admit it. But thanks to Cincinnati author Michael S. Rose, dozens of priests and former seminary students are telling the truth about sexual abuse by priests.

May 26: Church in dark about probe
Three days after computers were removed by sheriff's deputies from St. Henry Catholic Parish, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati still did not know what the investigation is about.

May 25: Ex-Elder principal relieved of duties
The Rev. Thomas Kuhn, a former principal of Elder High School, has been placed on administrative leave and relieved of his duties at St. Henry's Church in Dayton for undisclosed reasons.

May 20: 'After pastor' helps parish heal
When a sexual abuse scandal forced out an area pastor, Catholic officials needed a new pastor who could work with stunned and angry parishioners. They called the Rev. William Schwartz.

May 20: March shows Catholic pride
Determined not to let pedophile priest scandals shake their faith, about 400 Butler County Catholics joined in a Catholic Unity March.

May 18: Dioceses paid $5.7M to settle cases
Greater Cincinnati's two major Roman Catholic dioceses have paid out nearly $6 million to settle claims over alleged sexual abuse by priests over the last two decades.

May 18: Four committed to priesthood
The Roman Catholic church is in a crisis of trust from the priest sex abuse scandal, but it has strengthened the commitment of four area men to the priesthood.

May 15: Archbishop expresses distress
In his first public comments to the more than 500,000 Roman Catholics under his care, Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk talks about the pain and suffering from the priest sex abuse scandal in a public letter.

May 9: Church inquiry widens
A new and expanded grand jury subpoena demands that the Archdiocese of Cincinnati turn over virtually every scrap of paper in its archives related to child abuse in Hamilton County.

May 6: Many Catholics want disclosure
Catholics in two communities are asking the same question about priests recently accused of sexual misconduct: Why didn't church officials disclose earlier accusations against them?

May 4: Principal didn't know about teacher's abuse case
Elder High School's principal says he didn't find out until Friday that the Archdiocese of Cincinnati had settled a complaint of sexual misconduct against the Rev. James G. Kiffmeyer in 1997.

May 2: Abuse victims find empathetic response
Across the country and in the Tristate, increasing numbers of people are coming forward to report abuse by priests and even nuns.

May 2: Priest impossible to prosecute
Prosecutors in two Ohio counties say they will not be able to pursue criminal charges against the Rev. Thomas Hopp, who is accused of sexually abusing a child.

May 1: Teacher at Elder denies misconduct
The Rev. James G. Kiffmeyer, 45, an Elder High School teacher, has taken personal leave for the rest of the school year following allegations of sexual misconduct, the Enquirer has learned.

May 1: Priest told to leave parish
A week after he was forced out of one parish, Father Thomas Hopp was asked to leave another.

April 30: Fr. Hopp out of ministry
The Rev. Thomas Hopp, the Dayton priest accused of sexually abusing a child, will never work in a public ministry again, church officials say.

April 30: Parishioners meet to discuss abuse allegation
At least 100 people, some with children, attended a meeting at Queen of Martyrs Church to get more information and talk about allegations against their former pastor.

April 29: Tristate priest admits abuse
The Rev. Thomas Hopp, a 61-year-old Price Hill native 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.

April 29: Peter Bronson Column: Thou shalt not molest children
My nomination for Most Painfully Obvious Statement of The Year: “Pope says child molesters should not be priests.”

April 26: Church meeting results disappoint some in area
Guy Guckenberger Jr. ,who was molested by a priest at age 10, and other area residents criticized the outcome of a special meeting of the American Catholic cardinals with the pope at the Vatican.

April 24: Catholics cheer pope's statement
Tristate Catholics applauded Pope John Paul II for his strong message to American cardinals that sex abuse by priests is a crime and abusers have no place in religious life.

April 24: Dayton grand jury seeks priest records
A grand jury in Dayton, Ohio, demanded Archdiocese of Cincinnati church records Tuesday about sexual abuse allegations against priests.

April 21: Church, county may go to court
A judge may soon be forced to put an end to the intensifying battle between prosecutors and Catholic church officials in Cincinnati.

April 21: Laura Pulfer Column: Are priests' victims getting any help?
I wonder where they are now, all those boys molested by priests over the years. In Boston? In Pittsburgh? In Palm Beach? In Cleveland? In Cincinnati?

April 15: Sex no longer a taboo topic in seminaries
Like thousands before them, would-be priests at the Tristate's only Roman Catholic seminary study the Bible, classic philosophy and church theology. But unlike many who have gone before them, they also spend hours talking about sex.

April 15: Seminary entry requirements
Would-be Roman Catholic priests face rigid requirements to enter seminaries. This is what's required at the Athenaeum of Ohio-Mount Saint Mary's Seminary in Cincinnati:

April 15: Homosexuals not necessarily excluded
Straight or gay? It's one of the questions facing potential entrants into the nation's Roman Catholic seminaries, and for the church itself.

April 15: TV ads pulled
TV ads that extolled the virtues of becoming a Roman Catholic priest disappeared suddenly in Greater Cincinnati amid new revelations in the widening, national church sex scandal.

April 14: How the church hid Cooley's sin
Father Cooley's bosses at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati knew of his keen interest in young people, especially boys. They also knew that where the priest went, allegations of sexual misconduct followed.

April 14: Cooley regrets turning victims 'against God'
In his first media interview, George Cooley told The Enquirer last week that he regrets sexually abusing boys in a Catholic camp and at the parish he served in the early 1980s, Guardian Angels in Mount Washington.

April 14: Abuse robbed family of faith
Two decades after a Catholic priest molested the two youngest Dasenbrock boys, the family doesn't attend any church. Faith in God still plays an important role, but they're soured on organized religion.

April 14: Priest scandals expand nationwide
Revelations of sexual abuse by Catholic priests have swept the country since early January. Here's how the scandal has evolved nationwide:

April 12: Church in crisis leaves Catholic mother with sad questions
Matters of religion have moved up the list as a topic of discussion at my house in recent weeks. As the instigator of most of those talks, however, I am torn about how honest to be with my children just now.

March 28: Laura Pulfer Column: Suffer the little children
Forgive me, Father, but I am having unkind thoughts. Why did it take a court order for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to cooperate with authorities?

March 27: Pilarczyk: Good work overlooked
Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk assured his priests that not all of them will be tarnished by the few who have abused children.

March 23: Church faces historic inquiry
Prosecutors will begin an unprecedented investigation next week into allegations of sexual abuse by priests in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

March 22: Lawyers view church records
Prosecutors learned Thursday that alleged sexual misconduct involving three still-active Roman Catholic priests took place in Campbell County before 1994.

March 22: Pope's comments welcomed locally
Local Catholics applauded the pope's willingness to publicly address the widespread accusations of sexual misconduct, even though some said the statement came a little late.

March 21: Time hurts sex-abuse cases
Prosecutors in Ohio and Kentucky are waiting today for details about decades-old sexual abuse allegations against Catholic priests.

March 21: Laura Pulfer Column: Entire families victimized
Her son was molested by a priest. His life, she says, will never be the same.

March 20: Priest cases upset faithful
Northern Kentucky Catholics contacted this week are upset that their church allowed religious leaders accused of sexual misconduct with minors to stay on the job.

March 16: Prosecutors ask what church hid
Hamilton County prosecutors want to know why authorities were not told about allegations of sexual misconduct involving several Catholic priests.

March 16: Catholics have little sympathy for abuse
It's a conflict. They want to know that abuses won't be swept under the rug, but it pains them to see their church under attack.

March 16: Pamphlet sets rules for prevention, response
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati published a pamphlet titled “Decree on Child Protection” four years ago. The 47-page pamphlet deals with prevention and details how the archdiocese is to respond to any allegations of sex abuse.

March 16: Covington diocese has written guidelines
The Diocese of Covington relies on a 22-page document to clearly define what is sexual misconduct and what should happen to its priests who are accused of abuse.

March 16: Sex abuse cases not new locally
In one of the most notable cases, the Rev. Earl Bierman, a Northern Kentucky priest, received a 20-year prison sentence in 1993 after pleading guilty to 25 molestation charges.

March 15: Accused priests still serve
As many as five priests in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati who have been accused of sexual misconduct with teens are still serving in priestly roles.

A C C U S E D   P R I E S T S
Greater Cincinnati priests who have been accused in recent months of misconduct:

img  Rev. Lawrence Strittmatter -- In two lawsuits since May, 10 men have accused the former Elder High principal of sexual abuse. Strittmatter was principal of Elder from 1970 to 1982. He later served as pastor of Our Lady of Victory parish in Delhi Township and assistant pastor at St. Albert the Great parish in Kettering. He was suspended from the latter position following an accusation of abuse at Elder, and church officials sent him to a treatment center and ordered him to stay away from children. When another accusation followed, the Archdiocese placed him on administrative leave.

img  Rev. Raymond Larger -- Larger resigned as pastor of Our Lady of Visitation after pleading no contest to soliciting an undercover male police officer for sex in a Dayton, Ohio, park. He was placed on administrative leave.

img  Rev. Ken Schoettmer -- The former priest at Queen of Peace church in Butler County pleaded guilty to molesting a 17-year-old boy in 1999. A judge sentenced Schoettmer, 61, to probation, allowing the victim to avoid testifying. Two years ago, Schoettmer confessed to parishioners that he had three sexual encounters with boys between 1984 and 1999. Archdiocese officials said Schoettmer, suspended since 2001, will now face formal proceedings to remove him from the priesthood.

  Rev. Richard Unwin -- Unwin was relieved as pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Tipp City after Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk revealed he had engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with children decades ago. Unwin, 50, taught at Badin High School in Hamilton and also served at churches in Forest Park, Hamilton and Oxford between 1979 and 1987, when the sexual abuse likely took place. He was placed on administrative leave.

  Rev. Francis Massarella -- Massarella, 88, who assisted at St. John the Baptist Church on weekends, engaged in inappropriate behavior with girls in private homes more than 50 years ago, Pilarczyk said. Massarella served in several Cincinnati and Kentucky parishes in the '40s and early 1950s, but has been chaplain at Mercy Sienna Retirement Community, a nursing home near Dayton, Ohio, since 1956. He was placed on administrative leave.

img  Rev. Thomas Hopp -- Hopp was suspended as pastor at Queen of Martyrs parish in Dayton after a man, now in his 30s, accused the priest of fondling him when he was a teen-ager. Church officials said Hopp admitted the abuse. The Price Hill native had worked in schools and parishes from Cincinnati to Kenwood to Delhi Township before finally moving to the Dayton area. He was placed on administrative leave.

img  Rev. James Kiffmeyer -- Kiffmeyer took a voluntary leave of absence from Elder High School following allegations by a man who said he was abused by Kiffmeyer during the late 1980s while he was senior at Middletown's Fenwick High School. Kiffmeyer, who taught at Fenwick from 1985 to 1991, denied the allegations. He was placed on administrative leave.

img  Rev. Thomas Kuhn -- Kuhn was suspended from St. Henry's parish in Dayton after the archdiocese received a complaint about files found on church computers. Authorities seized the computers but would not say what they were looking for or what, if anything, they found. Kuhn served as principal at Elder from 1982 to 1988. He has since resigned from St. Henry's.

  Four other Greater Cincinnati priests remain with the archdiocese despite a history of sexual misconduct. Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk announced in March that the priests all had been treated and remain under close supervision. He has refused to name the priests or to describe their assignments, saying only that they are not a threat to children.

  In Northern Kentucky:

img  Rev. Louis J. Holtz -- Mark Fischer, now of Billings, Mont., had accused Father Holtz of sexually abusing him when he attended Newport Catholic, where the priest was a teacher. The suit claims the abuse began in 1970, when Fischer was 13 and continued for three years. Holtz, who is undergoing "laicization," or the process of being defrocked, is the subject of a separate criminal investigation started in November. Holtz and the diocese have settled out of court with Bernard Gerhardstein of Fort Thomas in 1997 over alleged abuse by Holtz at Holy Family Convent and St. Phillip's in Melbourne.

img  Rev. Bill Fedders -- Accused in a sexual abuse lawsuit, Fedders served for 15 years at three Northern Kentucky parishes and taught at three Catholic schools in the area. The suit filed by a Lexington man, now 33, alleges that Fedders abused him when he served at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Lexington in 1983. Currently, Fedders is pastor at Jesus Our Savior Catholic Church in Morehead, Ky.