Diocese Looking for Possible Abuse Victims
By Kathy Thompson
Zanesville Times Recorder
July 14, 2012
The Catholic Diocese of Columbus is asking anyone who might have been sexually abused by a former Zanesville priest to report it to them and local authorities.
Father Thomas Brosmer was placed on administrative leave Thursday by the Diocese after an accusation of sexual abuse of an 11-year-old boy surfaced.
The abuse is alleged to have taken place at St. Nicholas Parish in Zanesville from 1969 to 1973 while Brosmer, now in his 60s, was assistant pastor and a teacher. Brosmer has been at the St. Cecilia Church in Columbus from 2004 until his administrative leave.
Paul Ritter, a Columbus attorney who represents the Diocese in Columbus, said he called the Zanesville Police Department on July 5, after the allegation was deemed credible by the church.
"The church received the report on July 2," Ritter said. "An internal review by a board of eight people was conducted, and they reported it credible to the bishop."
Ritter said that's when he called the police department.
While the board found the allegation to be credible, the church does caution that a finding of credibility is not proof of guilt, but that the church is "executing the judicial and administrative options necessary to conclude its inquiry," said George Jones, Diocese director of communications.
On Friday, Zanesville Police Detective Harry Taylor said he had no knowledge of any report.
Reports from the police department do show Ritter called July 5 and reported the incident. The incident report says the alleged abuse happened to an 11-year-old boy.
Jones said Ritter also called Muskingum County Children Services that day, but was referred to the police since the reported incident allegedly occurred so long ago.
He said someone at the police department told Ritter that legal requirements would prevent police from taking action, but would note a report had been made.
Jones did not know who made that decision.
Ritter said now the bishop will make a determination as to what action, if any, is appropriate.
"The bishop could recommend anything from administrative leave to requesting to have Brosmer removed from the church," Ritter said.
Brosmer is not allowed to engage in any pastoral duties while on administrative leave, Jones said.
This is the first specific allegation of this type that has been made against Brosmer, and Jones said he does not know of any other allegations.
Ritter said if there are other victims, they need to come forward.
"We don't know, and there's nothing we can do if they don't," Ritter said. "It's very important to the church that they tell us."
Ritter did say the statute of limitations might be a problem since the incident happened more than 40 years ago.
"The church doesn't care how long ago an incident happened, though," Ritter said. "We need to know."
Muskingum County Prosecutor Michael Haddox said he had not received any calls or reports of the incident and would not want to determine whether the statute of limitations on filing charges has run without seeing the case.
"At first glance, I would say it appears the statute of limitations has run," Haddox said. "But without specifics, I can't give an opinion."
Haddox did say that at this time, the statute of limitations for most sex offenses is 20 years. But in the case of a minor, the limitations do not begin to run until the minor reaches the age of 18.
But, if this incident occurred more than 40 years ago, the statute of limitations at that time could have been six years, which was the limit for most felonies, Haddox said.
"At this time, I just don't know the particulars," Haddox said.
Brosmer, who has been a priest since 1969, came to Zanesville that year and worked with youths at the church, along with teaching social ethics at Rosecrans High School, according to an article from the Times Recorder in 1970.
Originally from Columbus, Brosmer helped direct the Parish Council and assisted in planning adult education and lenten discussions.
After leaving Zanesville, Brosmer served at Immaculate Conception Church in Dennison, Central Catholic High School in New Philadelphia, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Grove City, Bishop Ready High School in Columbus, St. Agnes in Columbus, St. Matthew Church in Gahanna, St. Phillip the Apostle Church in Columbus, St. Brendan Church in Hilliard, St. Michael Church in Worthington and St. Cecilia Church in Columbus.
kthompson@zanesvilletimes recorder.com; (740) 450-6753