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  Cincinnati Man Tells of Abuse by Local Priest
St. Albert Pastor Was His Principal in High School

By Christine Willmsen
Dayton Daily News (Ohio)
June 13, 2002

MASON - A 1980 graduate of Cincinnati Elder High School is speaking publicly about how his principal, the Rev. Larry Strittmatter, sexually abused him while he was a student because he said he believes there are more victims.

Bob Fricke of Cincinnati claims that during his senior year in high school, Strittmatter inappropriately touched him on three occasions after playing racquetball in 1979 and 1980.

"I think there are other guys out there who are his victims," the 40-year-old construction manager said. "I wanted to put a face to the story. I have family that went through Elder who have friends who could have been victims . . . maybe they'll go see a counselor."

Strittmatter, 69, associate pastor at St. Albert the Great Catholic Church in Kettering, was placed on administrative leave Sunday after Fricke's allegations were substantiated by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Strittmatter was the principal at Elder from 1970 to 1982.

Fricke and his wife, Connie, met with reporters from The Dayton Daily News and The Cincinnati Enquirer for about 75 minutes Wednesday night in Mason at the office of their attorney, Konrad Kircher.

Fricke said the abuse started when he and "Stritty" started playing racquetball at the Friar's Club, in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Clifton.

"When the principal of your high school asks you to go out and spend some time with him - it's more of a privilege than a threat," he said. "We'd play racquetball and naturally when you're done you have to go to the locker room and shower and that's where it took place.

"The group of guys that I ran with, most of us at one point or another played racquetball with him."

The archdiocese reports that Strittmatter did not deny Fricke's allegation. Strittmatter, who has been moved to an undisclosed location, could not be reached for comment.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Tricia Hempel did not return phone calls for additional comment.

Kircher said the archdiocese never attempted to find other possible victims.

"They should have sat Strittmatter down and said 'tell us who your other victims are,' " Kircher said. "Sit down with an Elder yearbook if he can't remember the names so he can look at the pictures because there are other people out there that haven't come forward. . . I want the church to contact the people and see if they need help. We are still waiting for that."

Fricke, a father of three, wasn't the first to report a sex abuse allegation. In 1988, a man reported to the archdiocese that he was abused by Strittmatter while attending Elder.

Strittmatter sought counseling and was placed at St. Albert, where he was ordered to stay away from children.

"Why didn't they make an attempt to see if there were other victims?" Kircher said.

Fricke said Strittmatter should have been removed in 1988 after the first allegation of abuse.

Fricke reported his abuse to the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office in March, which told him the case was too old to prosecute.

Fricke told archdiocese officials about the abuse during a May 17 meeting at the archdiocese offices in downtown Cincinnati.

Fricke said that after he graduated, Strittmatter, who had a "big, booming voice" continued to telephone him asking to play racquetball, but he refused.

"I stopped taking his phone calls," Fricke said.

Fricke kept his story a secret for more than 10 years, until 1990 when he told Connie.

Then he started seeing a therapist because of problems with interpersonal relationships and a bad temper, which he now attributes to the sexual abuse.

He wants the archdiocese to pay for his previous therapy, which totals $7,000, and any future counseling.

Fricke, who is still Catholic, said the healing process has just started for him. Anytime he's near a priest, his blood pressure skyrockets.

"I just get tense," he said. "I can't be near them right now."

 
 

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