|Statement: Former Pilot Grove Priest on Leave Amid Investigation
By Nate Birt
Boonville Daily News
January 8, 2010
A priest who once worked in Pilot Grove has been put on leave pending investigation of an "allegation of inappropriate electronic communication with a minor" five years ago, a news release from the Diocese of Jefferson City states.
Father Thomas Seifner was removed Dec. 18 from his positions as pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Loose Creek and St. Louis Church in Bonnots Mill, according to the Dec. 20 news release. Both of those churches are located in Osage County. The Diocesan Review Board is investigating the claim, the release states.
"The case is under review," said Mark Saucier, spokesman for the diocese, in an interview Friday morning. He said he didn't know whether a prosecutor's office is looking into the case. Saucier said he was not able to comment further because the investigation is ongoing.
Osage County Prosecutor Amanda Grellner said this afternoon that nothing has been turned over to her office in connection with the case.
The Most Rev. John Gaydos read a statement about the investigation at weekend masses at the Loose Creek and Bonnots Mill churches, the release states. A similar statement was read in Pilot Grove, the release states.
The following is a copy of the text read by Gaydos, according to the release:
"The Diocese of Jefferson City has received a report of inappropriate electronic communication between Fr. Tom Seifner and a minor. The report is of communication that took place five years ago. The individual is no longer a minor.
"Diocesan policy regarding the investigation of such a report will be followed and the diocesan review board will meet promptly to conduct an investigation and advise me as to its findings.
"As your bishop, I am placing Fr. Seifner on temporary administrative leave pending the review board’s completion of its investigation. This action is neither an indication of his guilt nor his innocence.
"Such actions are difficult for everyone involved. I share in the pain and anguish that we all feel as Catholics when such reports appear. I ask that you keep everyone involved in the report and the investigation in your prayers.
"The protection of children is a primary concern for the Diocese of Jefferson City. As your bishop, I am committed to insure that the church is a safe and healthy place for all children. If anyone knows of information regarding any inappropriate or abusive behavior by any priest or representative of the diocese, please contact Mr. Ron Vessell, the review administrator for the diocese. He can be reached by calling the chancery."
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