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  St. John Cathedral's Pastor Is Suspended over Abuse Allegation

By David Briggs
Plain Dealer [Cleveland, Ohio]
April 12, 2002

The pastor of the most prominent pulpit in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland was suspended last night, the latest casualty in a widening investigation of alleged child sexual abuse by priests.

The Rev. David Weber, rector of St. John Cathedral in Cleveland, was placed on administrative leave, His case will be added to those of 23 other active, retired or former priests the diocese is turning over to Cuyahoga County prosecutors.

Weber is the 11th active priest suspended by the diocese in the last two weeks. The diocese said a past allegation of sex abuse of a minor prompted it to suspend Weber, 52. He has been accused in the past of sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy, sources said.

"We cannot undo the past. We cannot undo the physical and emotional harm suffered by those affected by past incidents, But what we can do is focus on the future," the diocese said in a release announcing the action.

"Today, we renew the pledge Bishop [Anthony] Pilla has made on any number of occasions: The Diocese of Cleveland remains fully and unequivocally committed to protecting all of our children," the church said.

The diocese on Monday suspended nine active priests and identified 12 retired or former clergymen who have been named in past child sex-abuse allegations, saying information about those claims would be forwarded to prosecutors.

At the time, church officials said they believed the 21, plus another priest suspended two weeks ago, included all diocesan clergy accused of child sexual abuse.

When confronted Tuesday with the names of other priests who, according to court records and sources, had been named in past child sex-abuse allegations, the diocese on Wednesday added the name of former priest Daniel Nealon, saying his omission from the list to be given to prosecutors was an oversight.

The diocese said it was investigating Weber's case and late yesterday announced his suspension.

St. John Cathedral is the most prestigious pulpit in the diocese. The cathedral is where bishops are consecrated, priests are ordained and major community celebrations, such as the interfaith service after Sept. 11, are held.

Weber has served at St. John since the mid-'90s. His other parish assignments included St. Albert the Great in North Royalton, St. Jerome in Cleveland and St. Ann in Cleveland Heights.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William Mason last week subpoenaed all information regarding child sex abuse by church employees. Mason said he wants to receive the records of all cases today.

"We've asked for all of their records, not just those that they deem to be valid," Mason said.

In announcing the action regarding Weber, the diocese said it would place any priest alleged to have abused a child on immediate leave pending a thorough review.

The diocese said media reports suggesting that it is not producing all information requested by the prosecutor's office were false.

"We are cooperating fully with the prosecutor in his investigation of these matters, and we will be producing records responsive to the subpoena," church officials said.

 
 

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