|Exonerated Priest Returned to Ministry
The Catholic Telegraph
February 22, 2008
ARCHDIOCESE — Father Raymond Larger, who in 2005 was found by a judge to be not guilty of criminal charges that he sexually abused a minor, has been reinstated as an active priest following a review of his case by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Father Larger, 56, will be given an assignment for priestly ministry at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in Cincinnati and will work at the chancery of the archdiocese, according to a statement released by the archdiocese on Feb. 14.
"We are grateful to the Holy See for their interest in this matter, and we believe they have handled it thoughtfully and with justice," said Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk. "I believe in Father Larger's innocence and am thankful that the clearing of his name makes possible his return to a ministerial role."
A native of Sidney who was ordained in 1977, Father Larger was pastor at St. James the Greater from 1991-2002. He then was named pastor of Our Lady of Visitation Church in 2002 but resigned the pastorate in 2003 when he pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges of public indecency in a Dayton public park.
Following a period of administrative leave, psychiatric evaluation and a year of legal probation, he was returned to active ministry in 2004 with residence at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains.
After the archdiocese established a $3 million Claim Resolution Fund in 2003 for victims of child sexual abuse, a man filed a claim that Father Larger had abused him during the years 1995-1997 when he was a student at St. James School. The independent tribunal reviewing the claims consisted of Judges Ann Marie Tracey and Thomas Nurre and attorney Robert Stachler. The tribunal declined to compensate the accuser.
As required by law, the archdiocese turned over the complaint against Father Larger to the Hamilton County prosecutor's office. A Hamilton County grand jury indicted him in 2005 on six counts related to the abuse accusations. Because of the indictment, Archbishop Pilarczyk placed Father Larger on administrative leave, which meant that he was not permitted to exercise any of the functions of a priest.
At that time and since, Father Larger has maintained that the abuse allegations were untrue and totally without basis in fact. On Oct. 31, 2005, Judge Robert Ruehlman of the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas found Father Larger not guilty of all charges, stating in court that the testimony he heard from the accuser was not credible. Archbishop Pilarczyk said at the time that he accepted the verdict and that Father Larger's position in the archdiocese would be addressed when a pending civil suit against the priest regarding the accusations was resolved.
In July 2006, Judge Ralph Winkler of the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas ruled in favor of Father Larger and the archdiocese in that civil suit. The decision was appealed to the First District Court of Appeals in August 2006 and was unanimously reaffirmed by a three-judge panel in June 2007.
The case, in its entirety, was presented to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for full review and determination. The congregation concluded last month that Father Larger is to be allowed to exercise his priestly ministry.
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