Priest Returns to Ministry after Leave for Sex Allegations
By Liz Foreman
WCPO [Cincinnati OH]
December 29, 2006
A priest who took a leave of absence from the priesthood after allegations of sexual contact with students has been reinstated by the Vatican.
Rev. James Kiffmeyer took a leave of absence from his teaching position four and a half years ago.
In a decree dated November 25, 2006, the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy wrote Kiffmeyer, "is to avoid situations and persons which might endanger his living up to his priestly commitment, and he is to closely guard his own personal behavior so that no further scandal be caused by any of his actions."
No civil suits were filed, nor were criminal charges brought against Fr. Kiffmeyer in either matter. Fr. Kiffmeyer denied that any sexual misconduct occurred.
The following is the full text of a press release from Archdiocese of Cincinnati:
After a leave of more than four and a half years, Fr. James Kiffmeyer has been returned to active priestly ministry as a result of action by the Vatican.
Fr. Kiffmeyer took personal leave from the priesthood in April 2002 after an allegation of sexual misconduct was made against him. Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk later put him on administrative leave, which meant that he was unable to celebrate the sacraments, wear clerical garb or in any other way function as a priest.
There were two allegations of sexual misconduct made against Fr. Kiffmeyer. Both involved drinking and both accusations came from students at Fenwick High School who were at least 18 years of age at the time of the alleged events. The first allegation from 1990 was brought to the attention of the Archdiocese in 1997. Father Kiffmeyer reached a four figure settlement with the accuser. The second incident was said to have occurred around 1986 and was brought to the attention of the Archdiocese in April 2002. To date, there have never been allegations of misconduct with persons under the age of 18 years against Fr. Kiffmeyer. No civil suits were filed, nor were criminal charges brought against Fr. Kiffmeyer in either matter. Fr. Kiffmeyer denied that any sexual misconduct occurred.
After being placed on leave, Fr. Kiffmeyer became employed and entered counseling. He made recourse to the Congregation for Clergy at the Vatican, contending that Archbishop Pilarczyk's actions prohibiting him:
In a Decree dated November 25, 2006, however, the Congregation for Clergy directed Fr. Kiffmeyer "that he is to avoid situations and persons which might endanger his living up to his priestly commitment, and he is to closely guard his own personal behavior so that no further scandal be caused by any of his actions."
His next assignment is under study by the Priest Personnel Board of the Archdiocese.
Archbishop Pilarczyk urges anyone who was abused as a child by a priest or any other representative of the Archdiocese, or knows someone who was, to report the abuse immediately to the secular legal authorities and to the Archdiocese's Victim Assistance Coordinator, Sister Mary Garke, at (513) 421-3131 or 1 (800) 686-2724. In addition, the Catholic Conference of Ohio has established a fund to provide counseling assistance for persons who were sexually abused as minors by clergy or other representatives of the Catholic Church but are reluctant to contact the Church for help. Information about the fund and claims forms are available at www.counselingassistancefund.org
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