Ex-St. Henry Pastor Facing 11-Count Indictment
Priest Charged with Public Indecency, Providing Alcohol
By Tom Beyerlein tbeyerlein@DaytonDailyNews.com
Dayton Daily News [Dayton OH]
Downloaded October 16, 2003
DAYTON | A Montgomery County grand jury issued an 11-count misdemeanor indictment Wednesday against the Rev. Thomas Kuhn on charges of public indecency and providing alcohol to minors.
Kuhn, 62, former pastor of St. Henry Catholic Church in Miami Twp., was charged with one count of public indecency, six counts of furnishing alcohol to minors and four counts of allowing minors to possess or consume alcohol on his premises.
County Prosecutor Mathias Heck Jr. said the investigation of Kuhn isn't over, but the grand jury brought the 11 indictments Wednesday "to avoid any statute of limitations issues."
Through his attorney, Christopher Conard of Dayton, Kuhn has agreed to present himself to the Montgomery County Jail this morning to be booked on the charges, Heck said. If found guilty, Kuhn could face up to 18 months in jail, Heck said.
Conard did not return a phone call seeking comment.
The offenses occurred at Kuhn's home in Miami Twp. between November 2001 and January 2002, and involve five victims — four male and one female — 18 years old or younger, Heck said. Kuhn has since moved to Cincinnati.
The public indecency charge carries a maximum penalty of three months in jail, while each of the alcohol offenses carries a possible six-month sentence. All of the charges could be aggregated for an 18-month sentence, Heck said.
"The type of activity alleged in these charges is reprehensible, and I deplore it as I deplore any actions that put minors at risk," Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk said in a prepared statement.
Pilarczyk placed Kuhn on paid leave from the priesthood in May 2002 as sheriff's deputies seized several computers from St. Henry parish. Heck wouldn't discuss what investigators may have found on the computers.
Archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco said church leaders are waiting until the criminal charges are resolved before deciding whether to seek to have Kuhn permanently defrocked in a church trial under canon law. Pilarczyk last month said he will seek to have 10 other priests in the 19-county archdiocese defrocked because of substantiated instances of sex abuse.
"Until we see all the details, we really can't know" if Kuhn should be defrocked, Andriacco said. But "what is being charged here is very serious stuff and, if true, certainly has the potential for a canonical case."
During a 16-month probe of sex-abuse allegations involving local Catholic churches, investigators from Heck's and Sheriff David Vore's offices have identified 20 potential suspects — 13 priests and seven lay employees of Catholic schools. Allegations of misconduct against the 20 stretch from the 1950s to last year, Heck said, and the statute of limitations has expired in "the vast majority" of the cases.
Kris Ward, co-founder of the local Voice of the Faithful lay activist group, said Heck's announcement "puts this in a perspective that sexual abuse of children and minors is not something that happened a long time ago — it's happening today. We are glad that the pall that's been over the St. Henry parish has been lifted somewhat."
Contact Tom Beyerlein at tbeyerlein@DaytonDailyNews.com or 225-2264.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.