Medina priest placed on leave by Cleveland Diocese. Allegations do not include sexual abuse of a minor, parishioners told

Akron Beacon Journal [Akron OH]

March 26, 2022

By Alan Ashworth

A priest in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland who has served assignments in Stow, Wadsworth and Medina has been placed on administrative leave due to unspecified allegations of violating the diocese’s standards of conduct for ministry.

The Rev. Michael D. Ausperk was placed on leave this week while an investigation is conducted, according to an announcement that St. Francis Xavier Church in Medina released to its parishioners Saturday.

“These allegations do not allege any sexual abuse of a minor,” the statement said, adding that “the details are confidential, and the diocese has not disclosed them to us.”

“While on administrative leave, Father Ausperk is unable to function in any capacity as a priest anywhere,” the statement said.

In a video posted Saturday afternoon, the Rev. Anthony F. Sejba of St. Francis spoke about the investigation.

“I’ve got some very difficult news to share with you,” Sejba told parishioners.

The pastor said he had received a phone call from the clergy personnel director of the diocese “letting me know there had been an accusation against Father Mike.”

The standard practice when a clergy member has been accused, Sejba said, is to be suspended from ministry.

“So Father Mike left the rectory last week and the diocese, and the diocese issued the statement this week — Wednesday — and we’re letting you know,” he said. “… Father Mike won’t be here for a number of weeks or months while the investigation takes place.”

Sejba asked parishioners to pray for Ausperk, those conducting the investigation, and all involved.

“It’s very, very painful news, especially here in the heart of Lent,” he said.

In addition to his diocese duties and those at St. Francis Xavier, Ausperk has been involved in overseas ministry. He was ordained in 1989.

Ausperk previously served at Holy Family Catholic Church in Stow, leaving in 2006. He had served there as associate pastor beginning in 2001, and was transferred to St. Vincent DePaul Parish in Cleveland.

He continued, however, to lead Holy Family’s medical mission trips to Honduras at the time.

In January 2018, he led a weeklong medical mission to Honduras, providing health care to 3,100 people in seven villages. Medical doctors, eye doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, interpreters and others participated in the 72-member team.

The text announcement to St. Francis parishioners acknowledged that the news might be disturbing, but the matter was being handled with all seriousness by the diocese.

“We understand that this news is upsetting to all of us who have interacted with Father Mike over the last three years,” the announcement states. “Please understand that this matter is being handled at the highest levels of the diocese, and that this statement is made in an effort to be transparent.”

Ausperk had been stationed at St. Francis as a parochial vicar. Prior to that, he served in parishes in Mentor, Amherst, Cleveland, Wadsworth and Rittman in addition to the Stow and Medina appointments.

He serves on the Archbishop Hoban High School board of directors and has helped to lead annual medical missions that the school carries out in Honduras.

Leave a message for Alan Ashworth at 330-996-3859 or email him at Follow him on Twitter at @newsalanbeaconj.