Church in Crisis
The Rev. Robert Dollinger

Louisville Courier-Journal
September 29, 2002

[See the main page of this special section on the Church in Crisis.]

Ordained in 1954, Dollinger is named in four lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Louisville. He moved to Canada in 1983 and served as a pastor of a parish in the province of Prince Edward Island until 1994, when two men told Archbishop Kelly that they had been abused by Dollinger years earlier and asked that he be moved away from children. The Web site for the Diocese of Charlottetown in Prince Edward Island shows that Dollinger is retired but still lives in a parish headed by his brother, who is also a priest. Dollinger did not respond to requests for comment.


PLAINTIFF: Christopher W. Brown (could not be reached for interview)
AGE: 40
ADDRESS: Nelson County
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1973 to 1978, St. Thomas church and farm
ACCUSATION: Sexual abuse
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Lawsuit said Brown was abused at the church, where he was an altar boy, and at a farm owned by the church.

PLAINTIFF: Robert R. Schlafer
AGE: 46
ADDRESS: Hudson, Ohio
OCCUPATION: Director of engineering
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1965 and after, at St. Thomas, on camping trips and at hotel in London, Ky.
ACCUSATION: Touching, fondling
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Schlafer said Dollinger, his uncle, would persuade Schlafler's mother to let him take the boy on camping trips and other outings, where the priest would abuse the boy.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? Schlafler said he reported to Archbishop Thomas Kelly that Dollinger, his uncle, had abused him decades earlier -- and that Dollinger was still active as the pastor of a parish in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island. Schlafer said he demanded that Kelly remove Dollinger from a position where he could use his power as a priest to victimize other children. Schlafer said the archdiocese's vicar general told him that Dollinger had been accused of abusing two other people. Schlafer said that in a letter dated May 27, 1994, Kelly wrote that "as a result of information communicated by you and your family," Kelly had made "significant changes in Father Dollinger's situation," including requiring him to retire from being a pastor and to cease any public ministry as a priest. In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the newspaper, Kelly also said Dollinger was looking for a monastery or retirement house in which to live, and that Kelly has asked him to "lay aside his clerical garb." But Schlafer said his family discovered in recent years that Dollinger was allowed to move to another Canadian parish, where he has served as administrator and an aide to the pastor, the Rev. Cletus Dollinger, his brother.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "Archbishop Kelly says he really wants to reach out to victims and help them. Well, I tried to do that but they didn't do what they promised. They told me they were going to do something and they didn't do it."

PLAINTIFF: Jerome Schlafer
AGE: 42
ADDRESS: Detroit
OCCUPATION: Production manager
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
DATE AND LOCATION OF ALLEGED ABUSE: 1971 and 1972, St. Thomas rectory and at Schlafer's home
DETAILS OF ALLEGATION: Jerome Schlafer, Robert Schlafer's brother, said Dollinger was sleeping over at their house on Dec. 1, 1971 -- the night the boys' father died -- and fondled him under his bedclothes. Jerome Schlafer says that he told Dollinger to stop and when he wouldn't, they argued and that his mother told them to settle down and go to sleep. In a second incident, Schlafer said Dollinger made the boy masturbate him. A third incident went beyond fondling, Schlafler said, but he declined to elaborate.
WAS ANYONE TOLD? Schlafer said in 1994 he complained to Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly that Dollinger was still an active priest and that his uncle had abused him three times. Schlafer said his brother, Robert, passed along to him the information in Kelly's May 1994 letter in which the archbishop said he'd changed Dollinger's status and that Dollinger was looking for a place to live outside a parish.
IN THE PLAINTIFF'S WORDS: "As far as I'm concerned, Archbishop Kelly didn't do what he promised."


PLAINTIFF: Charles Edward Sims (declined to be interviewed)
ADDRESS: Louisville
DEFENDANT: Archdiocese of Louisville
ACCUSATION: Sexual abuse

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