Priest Sex-Abuse Suit Settled
Statement Says Allegations Verified

By Adams Harold J
March 12, 2005

A woman who was allegedly sexually abused by a priest at St. Mary Catholic Church in New Albany in the 1960s has settled her lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

The settlement was completed last week when a joint statement by victim June L. Kochert and Archbishop Daniel Buechlein was published in the March 4 edition of The Criterion, the archdiocesan newspaper.

The statement said the Archdiocesan Review Board substantiated the allegations against the Rev. John B. Schoettelkotte.

"Father Schoettelkotte subsequently resigned his post and has been barred from performing any priestly functions," said the statement in The Criterion.

The Courier-Journal was unable to contact Schoettelkotte. Susan Borcherts, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said yesterday, "I've known before that he doesn't want to talk, and I'm going to respect his privacy."

Kochert had sued in August 2002, claiming that Schoettelkotte abused her from 1964, when she was about 15, until 1967, when she left New Albany. Kochert went to St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Terre Haute to become a nun.

The statement says Kochert filed the suit "in a search for answers and not for monetary compensation," and gets no money from the settlement.

It says that some of the questions have no answers but that Kochert "obtained some of what she needed: The abuse allegation was substantiated and the priest is no longer in ministry."

"At this time, Mrs. Kochert, Archbishop Buechlein, and the church have a greater need: reconciliation," the statement said. It noted that though Kochert did not become a nun, "she did not let the abuse separate her from the church."

Kochert and Buechlein have met and "They now agree that it is time to move forward, work together and ensure that nothing like what happened to her ever happens again," according to the statement.

Kochert had her attorney, Kyle Williams, respond to a message left at her home seeking comment. Williams said Thursday that the lawsuit was "kind of spiritual thing" for Kochert. "Really, there's not a whole lot that June would add" to the published statement, he said.

The statement does not address Kochert's allegations in the lawsuit that the archdiocese and the archbishop had known before transferring Schoettelkotte to St. Mary's in New Albany that he had allegedly "engaged in sexually deviate and unwelcome sexual contact with young women."

It also does not address the allegation that Kochert had reported the abuse against her to church officials three times dating back to 1969, but that no action was taken until 2002.

Williams said the statement in The Criterion "simply addresses what allegations were made by June that related to the conduct" involving her.


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