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  Priest Jailed; Accused of Threats against Reporter

By Brenda J. Breaux
Cincinnati Enquirer
February 23, 1993

NEWPORT, Ky. _ A Covington priest accused of sex crimes against children was arrested Tuesday after being accused of threatening a newspaper reporter.

The Rev. Earl Bierman, 61, was arrested by Kentucky State Police at the Catholic Center in Erlanger. He was being held in the Campbell County Jail in lieu of $ 125,000 bail.

Bierman was charged with terroristic threatening and retaliating against a witness. Police say he threatened Greg Flannery, a reporter for the weekly Mount Washington Press.

Police said the telephone threats were made Feb. 12 to Richard Strunk, who filed a civil suit against Bierman on Dec. 8.

"(Bierman) called Richard Strunk and said that he was getting a gun and was going to take his life and take me with him," Flannery said. "Bierman called me about a week ago and called me a 'no good son of a bitch' and hung up on me."

Like nearly 50 people who have made reports against Bierman, Strunk has said that Bierman sexually abused and molested him when he was 12 to 16. He said the abuse ended in 1982.

Bierman is a former Covington Latin School teacher, associate pastor and nursing home chaplain. Bishop William Hughes removed him from active ministry six months ago.

"We broke the story that people were making charges against Bierman,"

Flannery said. "I don't know if he blames the Mount Washington Press or me personally for breaking the story."

Flannery said Bierman was his teacher when he attended Covington Latin; the priest performed his marriage in 1979.

"I feel sorry for the man," Flannery said. "He is certainly suffering, but I'm glad they got him in custody.

"On my first day of school (at Covington Latin) I was warned by a senior that 'you are going to meet a man name Father Bierman. Don't be alone with him.' "

Bierman was arrested in November on two charges of sodomy against a 15-year-old boy in 1974. The Campbell County grand jury, which is investigating Bierman, is locked in a battle with the Covington diocese over the priest's personnel records.

On Dec. 30, the grand jury subpoenaed the files, which contain church investigative reports and charges against Bierman from parishioners. Diocesan lawyers have gone to the state court of appeals to keep the records on Bierman private. Hughes said he is trying to protect the privacy of alleged victims.

Commonwealth Attorney Lou Ball said the new charges might be presented to the grand jury. The commonwealth is working on a response to the diocese's appeal, he said.

Bierman was expected to be arraigned Wednesday.

 
 

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