Priest with Area Ties Ousted
Brunner, Who Served St. Patrick in Troy, Removed after Abuse Claims
By Tom Beyerlein
Dayton Daily News [Ohio]
March 30, 2006
For the second time in a month, the Vatican has announced the forced removal of a priest with Dayton-area ties who was credibly accused of child sexual abuse.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati said Wednesday that the Vatican approved what amounts to the forced resignation of Thomas Brunner, former pastor of Miami County's largest Catholic church, St. Patrick in Troy. The Vatican announced similar action against Lawrence Strittmatter this month.
In the 1980s, several women in the Cincinnati area accused Brunner of molesting them as minors, and he didn't deny it. Under the rules of the time, the archdiocese transferred him to another post after he underwent psychological tests and counseling. He came to Troy in 1995.
Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk suspended Brunner with pay from St. Patrick in September 2003 under the U.S. bishops' new zero-tolerance rule. He has not been permitted to serve as a priest.
The Vatican's action permanently strips him of ministry and kicks him off the payroll.
Brunner had requested the action, called laicization, under pressure from the archdiocese, said spokesman Dan Andriacco. Laicization is commonly called defrocking.
A civil lawsuit against Brunner was dismissed in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court. An appeal is pending.
One of Brunner's accusers is Christy Miller, who co-chairs the Cincinnati chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
Miller, who has been lobbying for a state law to extend the statute of limitations on some sex crimes, said Brunner's ouster points to the weakness of the system.
"In a sense, it makes him more free," she said. "He's not under the control of the church, there's no criminal record. It just strengthens my resolve (to ensure) no other girl will be molested like I was."
Contact Tom Beyerlein at 225-2264.
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