Springfield Diocese Ids 3 Catholic Priests Who Allegedly Abused Children Decades Ago
By Giacomo Bologna
October 8, 2018
The Springfield-Cape Girardeau Catholic Diocese identified three priests Monday who allegedly sexually abused children four decades ago.
Two of those priests the Rev. John A. Brath and Monsignor John J. Rynish have been dead for several years. The third, the Rev. Fred Lutz, retired from active ministry in 2011, the diocese said in a press release.
Brath died in 2014 and Rynish died in 2001, the release says.
Each priest allegedly sexually abused a minor sometime in the 1970s, the release says.
All three had stints in Springfield and the surrounding area during the 1970s, according to the release.
Under Missouri law, it's almost certain that the statute of limitations to file a civil suit against these priests has passed.
State law says such actions need to be filed by the time a victim turns 31 or within three years of discovering that an injury or illness was caused by sexual abuse whichever happens later.
It's unclear if any criminal charges against the one living priest, Lutz, would be feasible.
There is no statute of limitations for crimes including first-degree rape, forcible rape, first-degree sodomy, forcible sodomy or other class A felonies.
Under state law, lesser felonies must be prosecuted within three to five years.
As part of the release, the diocese said it will provide assistance to survivors of sexual abuse and encouraged to report abuse by contacting the Missouri Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-392-3738; or William Holtmeyer, Jr., MS, NCC, LPC, CEAP, Director of Child and Youth Protection, 417-866-0841, or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Victim Assistance Coordinator Judy St. John, LPC, NCC, 573-587-3139, or email@example.com; or through the diocesan Web-based TIPS Online reporting portal (see dioscg.org and look for TIPS link).
"The Diocese will reach out to every person who has been the victim/survivor of sexual abuse as a minor by anyone acting in the name of the Church, whether the abuse was recent or occurred many years in the past," the release says. "This outreach will include provision of counseling, spiritual assistance, support groups, and other social services agreed upon by the victim and the Diocese. The Assistance Coordinator will aid in the immediate pastoral care of persons who claim to have been sexually abused as minors by clergy or other diocesan personnel."
In August, the diocese announced its plans to launch an independent inquiry going back more than five decades in the wake of reported abuse by priests elsewhere in the U.S.
Bishop Edward Rice said in a letter that the Springfield diocese was aware of nine inactive priests who have faced previously reported credible allegations of abusing a minor. Rice also said a pastor was recently placed on administrative leave for "sexual misconduct over the Internet" and that the diocese is investigating a recently reported lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct by a former Springfield diocese employee.
A lawsuit filed in August claimed the Catholic diocese in Springfield was aware a top official was emotionally and sexually abusing a woman on church property.
Troy Casteel was the director of family ministry for the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Catholic Diocese as recently as 2017, the lawsuit says.
Casteel was supposed to be helping a couple with marital issues, the lawsuit says, but instead he manipulated them and became emotionally entangled with the wife.
The lawsuit claims Casteel's actions culminated in sexually abusing the woman on diocesan property.