By Dan Hassert
The Kentucky Post [Covington KY]
February 26, 2005
It must have been an agonizing nine months for the Rev. Gerald Reinersman. As The Post reported last Saturday, he was finally cleared of an allegation that he had abused a young boy in 1979 at Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary Church in Lexington.
People who know Reinersman were absolutely flabbergasted when the allegation was made public last May. The allegation involved a repressed memory, and Reinersman, then the diocese's No. 2 official, was absolutely adamant the abuse had never happened.
Illustrating the seriousness with which the diocese now takes any such allegation, however, it suspended Reinersman. And given that Reinersman had worked so closely with the diocese's own sexual misconduct committee, Bishop Roger Foys asked the Archdiocese of Chicago to review the allegation. But the archdiocese was unable to arrange an interview with the accuser, so the bishop recruited three laymen -- a retired judge, a media executive and a clinical psychologist who specializes in such cases -- to do so. After researching old records and similar cases and interviews, the panel cleared Reinersman. It didn't rule out, however, that the man simply accused the wrong priest.
Reinersman is free to return to active ministry. He had already intended to step down as vicar general for the diocese.
The system appears to have worked, but one wonders at what cost to a carefully built reputation.