Priest Not Guilty; Judge Criticizes Accuser
By Dan Horn
Cincinnati Enquirer [Cincinnati OH]
November 1, 2005
A judge threw out sexual abuse charges against a Cincinnati priest Monday
after declaring that neither the accuser nor his story was believable.
A relieved Rev. Raymond Larger hugged family and friends, including several
priests, as he left the courtroom. Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman
found him not guilty of rape, sexual battery and gross sexual imposition.
| The Rev. Raymond Larger in court Monday.
The judge found that his accuser was not credible. The Enquirer /
Michael E. Keating.
The ruling ended the only trial of a Greater Cincinnati priest on abuse
charges since the clergy abuse scandal erupted more than three years ago.
"I feel great," Larger said. "There is no truth whatsoever
to the allegation."
Ruehlman reached the same conclusion after hearing about two hours of
testimony from the accuser, who had claimed Larger abused him repeatedly
from 1995 to 1997 while he was a student at St. James School in White
When prosecutors rested their case, the judge threw up his hands and shook
"It's silly to go any further with this case. The testimony I heard
just isn't credible," Ruehlman said. "In good conscience, I
can't allow this to go any further."
Larger, who was suspended when he was charged, said he hoped to resume
working as a priest soon.
Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk issued a statement saying Larger's status
would be addressed when his accuser's pending civil lawsuit is resolved.
The archdiocese recently reinstated two other priests who had been suspended
after concluding the claims against those priests were not credible.
Although 15 priests in the archdiocese have been disciplined for misconduct
since 2001, Larger is the only one to go to trial. The accusations against
the others occurred so long ago that prosecution was barred by the statute
The accusations against Larger arose when Dale Ramminger, 21, filed a
claim with the archdiocese's $3 million victim compensation fund. Church
officials then referred the case to Hamilton County prosecutors, who presented
it to a grand jury.
Larger's lawyer, Hal Arenstein, said Ramminger accused Larger in hopes
of getting money from the church.
"This is nothing more than a mere fantasy," Arenstein said.
"This is not a person who can be believed. He's all about the money."
Ramminger, who claimed he was 11 when the abuse began, denied any interest
in money and said he came forward in hopes of preventing the abuse of
He said Larger took an interest in him because of family problems, including
an abusive father and a mother dying of cancer. He said Larger told him
sex would bring him "closer to heaven."
But Arenstein cited several discrepancies in testimony Ramminger gave
to the grand jury and in court Monday, including the times he claims the
encounters with Larger took place.
Arenstein said Ramminger never mentioned the alleged abuse to anyone,
including counselors who treated him because of his family problems, and
did not come forward until he filed a claim for compensation. That claim
He also suggested the accuser, who came to court in handcuffs, was not
trustworthy because of previous troubles with the law. Ramminger currently
is serving time for attempted breaking and entering.
Larger, 54, has a previous conviction on sex-related charges, but that
charge did not involve a minor. He was sentenced to a year of probation
in 2003 after a conviction for soliciting sex from a male police officer
Larger said he did not remember ever meeting Ramminger, who was among
many altar boys he worked with over the years.
"I absolutely forgive him," said Larger. "I only wish the
best for him."