|Chesterfield Priest Cleared of Behavior Charge
By Zachary Reid
June 9, 2011
CORRECTION: An article Thursday incorrectly stated the charge of which the Rev. Steven R. Rule was cleared. The Catholic Diocese of Richmond investigated him for inappropriate behavior not involving a minor. The corrected story follows below:
A Chesterfield County-based Catholic priest has been cleared by the church of a charge of inappropriate behavior.
An investigation by the Catholic Diocese of Richmond found that "no infraction under civil or canon law" was found involving the Rev. Steven R. Rule.
"This has been a stressful time and Father Rule will be taking a sabbatical prior to his next assignment," reads an unsigned statement from the diocese.
A spokesman for the diocese said the statement was read Sunday to parishioners at the Church of the Epiphany, where Rule was a priest until early April.
Rule was placed on administrative leave after Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo received a report of inappropriate behavior by Rule. It did not involve a minor, DiLorenzo told parishioners in April, but the exact nature of the charge was not divulged.
The diocese said Rule was cleared "after an independent professional review" but didn't provide details of how or by whom the review was conducted.
It was the second time Rule had been placed on administrative leave since being ordained in 1975.
In August 2002, then-Bishop Walter F. Sullivan temporarily removed Rule from the pulpit of St. Andrew Catholic Church in Roanoke while the diocese investigated a claim that Rule sexually abused a student at St. John Vianney Seminary in Goochland County in 1976. At the time, Rule was dean of students.
In the fall of 2002, the diocese determined that Rule engaged in a situation that "was inappropriate and exceeded the boundaries under the circumstances." He was subsequently reinstated and assigned to Epiphany.
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