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  Covington Priest Cleared in Sexual-Molestation Case

By Jim Hannah
Cincinnati Enquirer
February 19, 2005

Man had claimed abuse occurred in 1979

COVINGTON - A Covington priest - who once helped guide the diocesan's response to allegations of priest sexual abuse - has been exonerated of a claim that he once molested a boy.

A committee of three civic leaders found no evidence that the Rev. Gerald Reinersman sexually abused a 7-year-old boy in 1979 while at Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary parish in Lexington.

The man claiming the abuse said he had repressed the memories of the molestation.

The group did, however, recommend that the diocese continue to make professional counseling services available to the man who claimed to be a victim.

His name was not released by the diocese.

The committee's findings were published Friday in the Messenger, the official diocesan newspaper.

"This was a very thorough investigation," said retired Kenton Circuit Judge Raymond Lape, who served on the three-man committee. "We examined every available piece of evidence and exhibit that was supplied to us."

The other members of the committee were William Burleigh, chairman of the E.W. Scripps Co. in Cincinnati, and Dr. Lief Noll, a licensed clinical psychologist at Mercy Professional Services in East Walnut Hills and the only non-Catholic of the group.

Reinersman, who had been on administrative leave since the allegation surfaced in May, will be fully eligible for an assignment within the diocese, according to an open letter from the bishop published in the Messenger.

He will not reassume his previous role of vicar general, or second in charge at the diocese.

Church officials said Reinersman was preparing to step down from that assignment even before the allegation was made against him.

Reinersman assisted Foys in saying Mass at the Catholic Center in Erlanger on Friday, but declined to comment through diocese spokesman Tim Fitzgerald.

In an open letter published in the Messenger, Reinersman wrote: "Since first hearing of the allegation of sexual misconduct made against me, I have been confident that a full and fair investigation of the facts would lead to my exoneration.

"Thanks be to God, that day has finally come."

He also thanked the people who supported him during the investigation and reiterated his earlier denials that he had ever abused anyone.

Committee members looked at Reinersman's personnel file, appointment calendar for 1979, school records of the accuser for 1979, photographs from the Lexington parish and its school, letters from the school's principal at the time and other school documents.

"This information gave the committee a highly detailed picture of the locale, as it existed in 1979, and a clear understanding of how the daily operations of the church, school and rectory were conducted," the three committee members wrote in a letter to Foys and also published in the Messenger.

The committee also reviewed a psychosexual analysis of Reinersman conducted at the National Institute of the Study, Prevention and Treatment of Sexual Trauma in Baltimore by Phyllis Anne Burke and Dr. Fred Berlin. The group also contacted authorities in the field of repressed memories and trauma.

"For the rest of my life, I will be grateful to those who believed in me and encouraged me through this nightmare," Reinersman wrote. "I have found great comfort in the Scriptures."

 
 

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