L.I. Cops Probe Revs. - 2 Catholic Priests Eyed for Child Sex Abuse

By Douglas Montero
New York Post
March 29, 2002

Nassau County police are investigating sex-abuse allegations against two Long Island priests even though the statute of limitation has expired in one case.

The unusual probe comes as the Suffolk County district attorney's office used a subpoena to prod Bishop William Murphy of the Rockville Centre diocese to hand over sexual-abuse complaints going back 25 years.

The Nassau County police investigation is targeting the Rev. Eugene Vollmer, who is suspected of molesting three boys between the ages of 12 and 15, in the early 1980s and early 1990s, in two separate parishes, said department Chief of Detectives Herbert Faust.

"We are going to conduct a thorough investigation before we come to some conclusion on the statute of limitation," he said. "Who knows what will be revealed."

Vollmer was removed from conducting his priestly duties March 21.

Two of the victims, brothers Mark and Rainer Welzel, reportedly contacted the DA's office in 1998, but no action was taken because of the statute of limitation, which, in the case of minors, expires five years after a victim's 18th birthday.

However, the "gravity of the allegations" warranted an investigation, said Faust, who is asking people with information about Vollmer's behavior to call the department's Special Victims Squad.

Faust also revealed a second priest is being investigated because of information in the files turned over by Bishop Murphy on Wednesday. Faust declined to provide any more details about the case.

Thomas Hamann, the chief of detectives for Suffolk County, said he's waiting for the district attorney to review Murphy's files before initiating his probe.

Bob Clifford, the spokesman for Suffolk County DA Thomas Spota, declined to comment about the subpoena or reports that a convicted child-molesting priest, Rev. Michael Hands, is cooperating with investigators.

Mike Dowd, the lawyer who represents Hands' victim, asked, "The $64-dollar question is are they willing to go after the diocese? Frankly if there are people covering up at the highest level in any diocese - I think those people should be held criminally responsible."

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, which has refused to hand over past cases to authorities, refused to comment on the latest developments on Long Island.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.