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  Diocese Announces Resolution of Investigation into Allegations against Rev. Dwight Shrader

Office of Communications
August 1, 2003

At the end of May this year, the Diocese of Richmond received a report that one of our priests, Rev. Dwight Shrader, was involved about two years ago in sexual misconduct toward an adolescent. In keeping with the US Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, Bishop Sullivan handed the report to our diocesan Review Board for their investigation, assessment and recommendations. On June 5, at the recommendation of the Review Board, Bishop Sullivan placed Father Shrader on administrative leave for the course of the investigation. The diocese subsequently received additional reports of incidents involving other adolescents, some occurring in the recent past and others longer ago. When the initial and subsequent reports were made, none of the young people involved were still minors.

On Monday, July 28, after completing its investigation, the Review Board concurred that the evidence showed that Father Shrader should not continue as a priest. They presented Bishop Sullivan with a unanimous decision to dismiss Father Shrader from the priestlhood. Bishop Sullivan has accepted their findings and carried out their recommendation. After asking for and receiving Father Shrader's formal resignation, the bishop has removed him as pastor of Saint John the Apostle parish in Virginia Beach and has dismissed him from priestly ministry.

In a letter which will be read to parishioners of the Virginia Beach parish this weekend, Bishop Sullivan expressed gratitude to those who came forward, and to Father Shrader, for cooperating "with true care and goodwill to bring this matter to resolution". He characterized the situation as "a terrible shock to us all" and said, "These have been very difficult days, especially for those directly involved". The bishop informed the parish that he will soon appoint a new pastor who will begin his duties there on Labor Day weekend. He concluded his letter saying, "I pray confidently that you will heal together in a spirit of forgiveness and that you will move forward in a spirit of hope".

Throughout the response process, diocesan officials have been in contact with those who came forward and their families to keep them informed and to extend the supportive care of the diocese. Those persons and their families gave their assistance to the investigation with compassion and have stated their gratitude that church ministers were present and available to their needs. Officials of the diocese have also provided pastoral care to the parish community and personal care to Father Shrader. The diocese will continue to extend pastoral support to those who have been involved and affected.

 
 

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