What happens when a priest is falsely accused of sexual abuse

America Magazine

April 17, 2019

By Michael J. O’Loughlin

Until last year, online search results for the Rev. Gary Graf would include stories about his liver donation to a parishioner, his scaling a border wall so he could understand more intimately the experiences of his immigrant parishioners and a hunger strike he staged to draw attention to the plight of Dreamers.

Today, however, the top results relate to Father Graf’s removal from ministry last August following an accusation that he inappropriately touched a minor. That allegation prompted the Archdiocese of Chicago to remove Father Graf from ministry and contact civil authorities, setting off multiple rounds of investigations—including a criminal trial—that ultimately cleared him of any wrongdoing.

As Holy Week begins, Father Graf is back ministering, but his story illustrates the challenges facing priests who are falsely accused at a time when hundreds of true stories of horrific abuse dominate the news.

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