Catholic Priest Removed
May 31, 2002

A South Dakota priest has been removed from his ministry after admitting he sexually abused a 17-year old boy 20-years ago, before he entered the seminary. Rapid City Diocese Bishop Blase Cupich sent this letter to parishes in the Lemmon area. In it, he explains why he had to remove Reverand Dennis Riss, pastor at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Lemmon.

Bishop Cupich says Reverand Dennis Riss "takes responsibility" for the sexual abuse of a 17-year old boy in the 1980's before Riss entered the seminary or was ordained as a priest. The Bishop writes "Father Riss told me after confronting this matter, that he has found a real peace and freedom, which has eluded him over these last two decades in which he has kept his secret."

Despite Riss' remorse, the Bishop says "I can never assign him again to public pastoral ministry."

"This is a serious crisis" He says the dicoses can't fall into "the trap of thinking that we can take a chance because we believe we know the man well enough, that we need his service because he's very talented or because we are short of priests."

The Bishop urges anyone with any other sexual abuse allegations to come forward. No criminal charges are expected. Neither the victim nor his family intend to seek financial compensation.


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