The alleged victims each contacted the diocese separately by telephone after published reports in mid-January that Seculoff, a Fort Wayne native, had been removed from public ministry after the diocese received what it determined to be a credible report he abused a minor about 40 years ago, Sean McBride, diocesan communications director, said Monday via email.
The new allegations involve a separate location from the first report, McBride said. To protect the identify of the victims, the diocese is not stating whether any of the victims are male or female or where specifically the alleged abuse cases took place.
After receiving the new allegations, the diocese conducted a preliminary investigation and forwarded those results to the diocesan review board and to diocesan leader Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades.
“The diocesan review board found these allegations, separately presented, to be highly credible and supported by substantial evidence, and so advised Bishop Rhoades,” the diocese said today in a news release.
As required by church law and by procedures spelled out in U.S. Catholic Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, Rhoades directed that the new allegations be forwarded to the Indiana Department of Child Services and to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican in Rome, the news release said.
Rhoades also asked for prayers for all parties involved, especially the alleged victims, Seculoff, diocesan priests and parishioners “during these painful and difficult days,” the news release said.
The diocese followed the same process with the first allegation against Seculoff.
To protect the alleged victim in that case, who reported the abuse Dec. 16, the diocese also has declined to say if the person is male or female and where specifically within its boundaries the abuse allegedly took place.
That case already has been referred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican in Rome, McBride said previously. Possible decisions by the Vatican body could include removing Seculoff from the priesthood.
The diocese also reported the case to the Indiana Department of Child Services.
At the time he was removed from public ministry, Seculoff was serving as pastor of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Walkerton, which is northwest of Plymouth and about 80 miles northwest of Fort Wayne. Seculoff also offered his resignation as pastor, which Rhoades accepted, and officially retired.
Seculoff, who was ordained a priest May 26, 1962, served from July 2007-July 2013 as pastor at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in New Haven. Rhoades appointed him to take over Aug. 1 as pastor at St. Patrick in Walkerton.
Rhoades visited St. Patrick parish on Saturday to help the parish with healing, McBride said. The diocese also is providing pastoral care to the alleged abuse victims.