Sex Allegations Oust 6th Priest; Pastor from Ruma, Ill., Is Latest in Belleville Diocese to Lose Post

By Robert Kelly
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri)
May 11, 1993

Another Roman Catholic priest in the Belleville Diocese has been removed from his church because of allegations of sexual misconduct years ago. The Rev. Gene Linnemann, pastor of St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Ruma, Ill., was placed on an indefinite leave by the diocese while an allegation against him is investigated. Diocesan officials said the allegation involves an incident more than 10 years ago with a minor. Linnemann is the sixth priest from the Belleville Diocese to be removed because of allegations of sexual misconduct. An official of the Belleville Diocese said Monday that he hopes the removal of Linnemann from his pastorate signals that an investigation of allegations of sexual abuse against the priests is nearing an end. "We are investigating all of the allegations," said the official, Monsignor Bernard O. Sullivan, vicar general of the Belleville Diocese. "Hopefully, the investigation will be brought to a conclusion within a couple of months." Linnemann had been on a health leave of four to six weeks because of stress and depression, diocesan officials said. The sexual misconduct allegation was brought after Linnemann began his health leave May 2, Sullivan said. The Rev. Maurice Heman has been named temporary administrator of St. Patrick's parish. The five other priests in the diocese have been removed from pastorates since early in March while sexual misconduct allegations against them are investigated by church officials. "It's a very difficult situation for everyone involved - certainly for the priests and those making the allegations," Sullivan said. "But God made this world and loves it and will take care of it." Last winter, Linnemann eulogized five nuns from the Adorers of the Blood of Christ convent at Ruma. The five were killed by rebels in Liberia's civil war. St. Patrick's is the parish church for the convent. Officials at the convent declined to comment Monday on the leave given to Linnemann. Linnemann could not be reached for comment Monday. The other priests removed from pastorates this year in the Belleville Diocese while sexual misconduct allegations are investigated against them are: the Rev. Robert Chlopecki of Nashville, Ill., the Rev. James Calhoun of Germantown, the Rev. Robert Vonnahmen of Elizabethtown, the Rev. David Crook of New Baden and the Rev. Jerome Ratermann of Belleville. The Belleville Diocese includes most of Southern Illinois. There are 128 Catholic parishes and 110 active priests in the diocese.


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