The Arizona Republic
Michael Clancy, The Republic | azcentral.com May 29, 2014
UPDATE AND CLARIFICATION:
This story has been updated to clarify information about the complaints and the number of parents who spoke to The Arizona Republic and include additional statements from the Diocese of Phoenix.
In addition, this story removes a reference to Mark Hebert, a former assistant pastor at St. Thomas. The original online version of this story did not state, and did not mean to imply, that he was ever involved in any allegation of sexual abuse. Hebert said he left St. Thomas for another parish and eventually left the priesthood to be married.
A Phoenix priest has resigned as a pastor as the diocese investigates several complaints against him.
On May 2, the Diocese of Phoenix said it was aware of “several complaints” associated with St. Thomas the Apostle Parish and School. Parishioners at St. Thomas, at 24th Street and Campbell Avenue, were informed that the Rev. John Ehrich would take voluntary leave while the investigation was underway.
Two weeks later, the diocese, which retained an outside law firm to conduct the investigation, announced that Ehrich had resigned as pastor of the church “for his own well-being and for the good of the parish.”
A note to parishioners on May 17 said that Ehrich “remains a priest in good standing” and that Ehrich had not been accused of physical or sexual abuse of a minor or been accused of a crime. In a statement issued Wednesday, the diocese said its investigator retained a licensed professional “with broad experience in child protection matters” to review remarks made by Ehrich to students during a classroom discussion. It said Ehrich remains a “priest with full faculties” in the Diocese of Phoenix.
The statement further said, “the Diocese of Phoenix is committed to providing a safe environment where it values and honors every individual as created in the image and likeness of God.”
In a follow-up statement Thursday, the diocese said, “we are not able to elaborate further on the details of an ongoing investigation regarding internal personnel matters.”
Ehrich could not be reached for comment.
A Republic reporter spoke to one parent, who did not want to be identified in this story, who said some parents had presented a list of demands to the diocese, foremost among them that Ehrich be removed from the parish. However, the parent would not provide the number of parents who complained and said those parents would not talk to a reporter.
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