Oblates Tell Man Who Reported Being Abused by Priest
By Nolan Rosenkrans
March 28, 2015
A man abused as a boy 14 years ago by a Toledo Catholic priest was not told the priest had admitted to the allegation before he died, the man’s attorney said Friday.
Khary Hanible is representing a man who reported in January to the Toledo-Detroit Province of the Oblates of Saint Francis de Sales that the Rev. James H. Roth had sexually abused him when he was nine or 10 years old. Father Roth died in February, and though his death has not been confirmed as a suicide, he left a note admitting to the abuse, said the Rev. Ken McKenna, the Oblates’ provincial.
Father McKenna acknowledged the note Thursday in an interview with The Blade; Mr. Hanible said his client and his family learned of the note from The Blade.
“He's not happy about it,” Mr. Hanible said. “The family is not happy about it.”
Father McKenna said the survivor was told in late February that his allegation was confirmed, but the note’s existence wasn’t revealed because neither the survivor nor his attorney inquired.
The survivor had told the Oblates that Father Roth sexually abused him on multiple occasions 14 years ago. Father Roth was a faculty member and administrator at St. Francis de Sales High School from 1976 to 1987 and from 1995 to 2004. While the survivor was not a St. Francis student, his brother was, and that’s how the survivor came to know Father Roth, Mr. Hanible said.
“He was a very young man when this occurred, and at some point we will discuss the man he is now,” he said. “It's safe to say that absent this abuse his life would turn out very different.”
The Oblates contacted law enforcement and conducted their own investigation as soon as the survivor made the allegation in January. Mr. Hanible said he is trying to obtain a copy of the investigation report from the Oblates.
Nor was the family aware of the circumstances surrounding Father Roth’s death, Mr. Hanible said. Father Roth was in a drug study for diabetes, and the medication’s side effects included depression and suicidal thoughts, according to the Oblates. While co-workers had noticed mood changes, Father McKenna said it’s unclear whether the drugs impaired his judgment or if the abuse allegation led to his death.
Mr. Hanible declined to say Friday what led the survivor to reveal the abuse in January.
“It was something that was a recent occurrence for him, and it came about after a long period of reflection,” he said.
The survivor and his family have not decided whether to pursue civil action against the Oblates, but are keeping their options open, Mr. Hanible said.
The Oblates, as well as the Toledo and Detroit Catholic dioceses, announced the accusations on Wednesday through their websites, the Catholic Chronicle, and a website — tdprovince.org — created by the Oblates that solicits further information or other accusations.
Father McKenna said he is unaware of any other allegations of abuse involving Father Roth, but the website is a portal for any other potential victims to make contact. A review of Father Roth’s personnel file also showed no misconduct reports, Father McKenna said. He declined to release the personnel file Friday.
Mr. Hanible said he and the survivor are also looking for other people Father Roth may have abused.
When asked if Bishop Daniel E. Thomas would comment on the allegations, the Rev. Monte J. Hoyles, chancellor of the Toledo diocese, referred questions back to Father McKenna on the grounds Father Roth was not a priest in the diocese and did not work in diocesan schools.