Evansville Courier & Press [Evansville IN]
April 6, 2022
By Houston Harwood
The Catholic Diocese of Evansville disclosed Wednesday that one of its priests has been accused of sexual misconduct.
In a news release, the diocese said it received an allegation of sexual misconduct against Father Bernie Etienne, who serves as pastor at Evansville’s Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 1301 S. Green River Road.
The Catholic Diocese of Evansville said it brought the complaint, which Etienne “strongly” denies, to “civil authorities” and the Diocesan Review Board.
Etienne has been placed on administrative leave. The misconduct is alleged to have happened more than 20 years ago, the release states.
From 1996 to 2006, Etienne served as pastor of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Gibson County, according to Courier & Press archives. The C&P contacted the Gibson County Prosecutor’s office, but did not hear back prior to publication.
Evansville Police Department spokeswoman Sgt. Anna Gray said the allegation had not been brought to EPD investigators, and Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Jess Powers said she has not been notified regarding an investigation.
Etienne was an associate pastor in Jasper for St. Joseph Catholic Church from 1993 to 1996. Starting in 1995, Etienne served as the diocesan director of vocations, a position he held until 2010.
He also served as a chaplain for Teens Encounter Christ from 1998 to 2001, and pastor of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Oakland City from 1999 to 2006, and dean of the Princeton Deanery from 2005 to 2006.
Since then, Etienne has held a variety of prominent diocese positions in Evansville.
Father Alex Zenthoefer will be the temporary administrator of Holy Rosary Parish, according to Catholic Diocese of Evansville spokesman Tim Lilley. Lilley said the diocese would not comment further at this time.
Any victims of sexual misconduct committed by a person ministering on behalf of the Catholic Church can contact local police and the Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator at 812-490-9565.