Second Allegation Reported against Ohio Priest
By Sheri King
Cox News Service
May 2, 2002
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati paid a four_figure sum in 1997 to settle another claim of sexual impropriety against a priest and former Fenwick High School teacher, an archdiocese spokesman said Thursday.
It was reported earlier this week that accusations of sexual impropriety had been made against the Rev. James G. Kiffmeyer, who taught religion and science at Fenwick from 1985_1991.
Archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco told The Middletown Journal Wednesday that Kiffmeyer denied the allegations and that no further complaints had been received against the priest while he taught at Fenwick.
However, Butler County Prosecutor Robin Piper said Thursday his office had received a phone call from the mother of another former Fenwick student _ a mother who said Kiffmeyer also had molested her son at the end of his senior year at Fenwick.
Andriacco told The Journal Thursday that the archdiocese did not report the "unsubstantiated claim of attempted sexual liberties" to authorities before paying the priest's former student.
"We often settle before going to court," Andriacco said. "It's so expensive to go to court."
Andriacco said he could not disclose the size of the settlement beyond saying it was a four_figure amount.
Andriacco also said the complainant wasn't interested in going to authorities.
On Thursday Andriacco first said Kiffmeyer's account of the alleged incident differed from that of the young man who reported it to archdiocese officials.
But moments later Andriacco said, "Father Kiffmeyer denies that the event took place."
"It's something that happened supposedly while both men (the priest and the former Fenwick student) had been drinking," Andriacco said.
When asked why he said on Wednesday that no further allegations of sexual improprieties had been made against Kiffmeyer while he taught at Fenwick, Andriacco said the second allegation didn't surface while Kiffmeyer taught at Fenwick; it surfaced in 1997.
Piper said the allegations closely parallel those posed by the other Fenwick student. That student put his allegations in a letter.
Both boys had just turned 18 when the alleged incidents occurred, Piper said.
Piper said the legal penalties for sexually molesting a person who has turned 18 are much less than for molesting a minor.
"It looks life a wolf is tending the sheep and this person knows when the student is turning 18," Piper said.
According to Piper, the letter from the Fenwick student said he was befriended by the priest near the end of his senior year, and the friendship continued after graduation.
Piper said the letter stated that alcohol and pornographic videos were involved, and one evening "an unsolicited sexual incident occurred."
The frustrating fact surrounding the allegations, Piper said, is that prosecutors cannot consider prosecution of either because the statute of limitations has expired in both alleged incidents.
Piper said he is unsure whether he can even investigate the claims, but he is working with the Hamilton County prosecutor to determine whether any claims against Kiffmeyer have been filed in that county.
Kiffmeyer was a teacher at Elder High School in Cincinnati until the allegations in the letter surfaced and he took a voluntary personal leave, Andriacco said.
Piper said the manner in which the allegations against Kiffmeyer have been handled by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati illustrates why there is a public outcry by both Catholics and non_Catholics for more accountability by the church.
The prosecutor said that though he can't prosecute the allegations, he is hoping by making them public that if some other young person has experienced sexual abuse that person might come forward.
"The way to protect children is through legal accountability," Piper said.
Sheri King writes for The Middletown Journal. E-mail: sking(at)coxohio.com
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.