Diocese Inquiry Excludes Cops
Police Can't Investigate Priest without Identity of Alleged Victim of Abuse
April 20, 2010
CHESTERTON | No criminal investigation has been launched in the case of a Michigan City priest accused of sexual misconduct because no alleged victim has come forward to police.
The Rev. Terrence Chase, pastor of Queen of All Saints in Michigan City, was placed on administrative leave Thursday, and Gary Diocese Bishop Dale Melczek spoke to parishioners Sunday about the allegations.
An accuser told the diocese the sexual misconduct took place about 19 years ago while Chase was an associate pastor at St. Patrick Church in Chesterton. The diocese has not identified the person publicly. It said the person came forward with the allegation a few weeks ago and did not tell police.
Chase has denied any wrongdoing.
While a representative for the diocese spoke to an unidentified Chesterton police officer about the allegation, the conversation ended without a report being taken.
Mark Plaiss, director of communications for the Diocese of Gary and a church deacon, and Chesterton police Capt. George Nelson gave similar accounts of what happened.
Plaiss said soon after the diocese received the allegation, Kelly Venegas, manager of human resources, called the Chesterton Police Department and spoke to a dispatcher. When she explained the accusation to the dispatcher, she was told she would get a call back. When an officer returned her call, she explained the allegation but said it was church policy not to reveal the name. She said the officer told her without a name of a victim the department could not investigate.
Nelson provided a similar explanation, saying the representative from the diocese ended the call when she learned the department needed a complainant to begin an investigation. No victim since has come forward, Nelson said.
Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel said no one has come forward to his office.
Meanwhile, the facts of the case will be sent to the Vatican, the central governing body of the Roman Catholic Church, where they will be heard by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which oversees Catholic doctrine.
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