|Diocese Finds Accusations False
Stands by Accused Priest
June 17, 2008
ROCKFORD—The Rockford Diocese stood by the innocence of one of its priests during a news conference organized by the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
SNAP called a press conference Tuesday, June 17 on the edge of the Diocesan Administration Center to demand the removal of Msgr. Michael Kurz from ministry because of an alleged accusation made in a lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Pueblo Colorado, in mid-May.
Msgr. Kurz is the Judicial Vicar for the Diocesan Tribunal and has served that office since 1997.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of an unidentified "John Doe 21" in Pueblo , Colo. , by attorneys Alan Molk and Herman & Mermelstein, alleges that the Colorado diocese allowed events of abuse to happen such as those allegedly by a Father Kurz. "John Doe 21" is seeking monetary compensation for the alleged incidents.
Diocesan Director of Communication Penny Wiegert joined the press conference to address the media and correct misinformation being disseminated by SNAP.
Wiegert issued the following statement on behalf of Bishop Thomas G. Doran and the Rockford Diocese to area media and to the SNAP contingent, which consisted of three people.
"According to diocesan policy and procedures, which were established in 1987, the allegation (naming Msgr. Kurz) was immediately turned over to the Diocesan Review Board for investigation. Upon investigation by our Review Board, the allegations against Msgr.
Kurz were unanimously determined to be unfounded and false. Because, according to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, we were not presented with a credible allegation, Msgr. Kurz was not removed from either his ministry in the Diocesan Administration Center or in residence at St. Rita Parish in Rockford, and he will not be removed.
"While we continually express sorrow for all victims of sexual abuse we must not allow baseless and erroneous allegations to perpetuate and defame the innocent.
"I am here today on behalf of the Rockford Diocese to inform you of the complete falsity of all claims. Times and dates in both lawsuits have been found to be false.
"1.?Msgr. Kurz was not assigned to the parish stated in the lawsuit at the time the plantiff said the alleged abuse took place.
"2.?Msgr. Kurz was not even an ordained priest at one of the times the plantiff stated he was abused by a Father Kurz.
"3.?Plaintiff claims he was abused by a Father Kurz at a school that closed three years before Plaintiff claims he was abused there, and Monsignor Kurz was never even assigned to that school.
"The lawyer representing the plaintiff was informed that the complaint's allegations could not possibly be true. Instead of withdrawing the lawsuit, the plaintiff's lawyer filed an amended complaint alleging new dates and totally retracting the allegation that abuse had occurred at the school. But the allegations against Msgr. Kurz in the amended complaint are also false. Plaintiff claims abuse occurred in at least one year when Msgr. Kurz was not even ordained a priest, and at a parish to which Msgr. Kurz had not yet been assigned.
"While we pray that the plantiff, John Doe 21, eventually finds solace and reconciliation in the truth, as we have, we will not allow our innocent priest to be besmirched by lies and displaced memories and imagined facts," Wiegert said.
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