Fox19-TV [Cincinnati OH]
October 22, 2021
By Jennifer Edwards Baker
The trial of a Cincinnati-area priest accused of raping a 10-year-old alter boy three decades ago is being delayed for the fourth time, his defense attorney’s office said Friday.
Father Geoff Drew’s trial was scheduled to start Monday morning before Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Leslie Ghiz.
Drew, 59, has pleaded not guilty to nine counts of rape and has been in jail at the Hamilton County Justice Center 26 month now.
He remains at the Hamilton County jail in lieu of $5 million bond and faces life in prison if convicted.
The latest delay comes at the request of Hamilton County prosecutors, according to defense attorney Brad Moermond’s office.
A new item on the court docket shows Monday’s hearing will be a “plea or trial setting” at 9 a.m. The trial was to start at 10 a.m. and it is still showing up on the court docket. It has not been canceled.
There are no new court filings in the case from the prosecution seeking the delay or why.
Moermond objected, according to his office, but Judge Ghiz is expected to set a new trial date of Dec. 6 on Monday. The judge has directed all parties to show up for court.
FOX19 NOW reached out to the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office for comment.
“As you mentioned, discussions of how the case will proceed will be put on the record on Monday,” Amy Clausing, a spokeswoman for the prosecutors’ office, wrote in an email response to FOX19 NOW.
“Out of respect to our victims, and due to the sensitive nature of a case like this, we are not providing public comment beyond what will be put on the record Monday. I would encourage you to attend that court date.”
A grassroots organization called Concerned Catholics of Cincinnati is made up of mostly parents and grandparents of Catholic children. They scheduled a vigil for 9 a.m. Monday and say it will go on despite the trial being delayed.
“We want to show support for the victims and we want to show parents in our community that we need to be proactive in protecting children from hidden predators,” said one of the group’s founders, Teresa Dinwiddie-Herrmann.
She expressed dismay for the victims over yet another delay.
“It takes so much courage to come forward. It is disheartening that it has taken two years to get to a trial and yet things are delayed again at the last minute,” she said.
“It feels like victims are constantly revictimized. Many of them don’t get the chance to go to a court and then when they do get a chance to get their predator to trial, it gets delayed and it doesn’t feel like justice. It’s just more delay and more anxiety and stress. It’s traumatic for victims all over again.”
Father Drew remains a priest in the archdiocese who is currently on administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal charges, according to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati
The previous trial delay, announced back in April, was at the request of Father Drew’s attorney.
It was over new allegations and evidence prosecutors outlined in voluminous court documents last year.
Those details are expected to be detailed during the trial.
Father Drew is accused of raping a fourth grader between 1988 and 1991 when he was the music minister at St. Jude School in Green Township.
Father Drew was not a priest at the time, according to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.
The victim, who is now in his 40s, told authorities the abuse occurred in Drew’s school office after school hours. Deters has described the victim’s grand jury testimony as compelling, convincing and emotional.
Father Drew, who was ordained a priest in 2004, was put on administrative leave in July 2019 and indicted the following month.
Court records show prosecutors plan to reveal multiple new allegations at his trial through testimony from the victim that he had sex with Father Drew when he was a little older, a teenager, and from a new witness, a second alleged sexual abuse victim.
But, due to the statute of limitations, Father Drew cannot be charged with those two new alleged crimes.
The second alleged sexual abuse victim was 12 or younger at the time, court records show.
Drew’s lawyer has rebutted the allegations in court filings of his own.
Drew’s attorney was not available for comment Friday due to an injury, his office said.