Diocese of Toledo adds 3 names to its list of clergy members credibly accused of sexual abuse

Toledo Blade [Toledo OH]

February 27, 2023

By Sarah Readdean

The Diocese of Toledo recently added three names to its list of diocesan clergy members who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse. All three were deceased prior to the allegations. 

The new additions are priests Richard Miller and Frank Nieset and deacon Bernabe Romo.

Father Miller was ordained in 1950 and served at nine diocesan parishes before retiring in 1997. He died in 2009.

Father Nieset was ordained in 1956 and served at 13 parishes, schools, and other institutions before retiring in 1995. He took sick leave in 1982 and a leave of absence in 1994. He died in 2015.

Deacon Romo was assigned to St. James Parish in Toledo’s Old South End from 1980 to 2005, before moving to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. He retired in 2006 and died in 2019. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis’ list of credibly accused clergy does not list any accused deacons.

St. James merged with Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Toledo in 2005.

The Diocese of Toledo Clergy Status Report is available at toledodiocese.org/clergy-status.

Kelly Donaghy, senior communications director for the diocese, declined to detail the specific accusations made against the three clergy members. She wrote in an email that to be added to the clergy status report, there must be a “substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor or a crime associated with child pornography.”

She also declined to specify the parish or parishes where the clergy members were assigned at the time of the incident or incidents, saying that the diocese does not discuss individual cases. She said the parishioners of the respective church or churches are to be informed via a pulpit announcement and a notice placed in the parish bulletin.

The clergy members’ assignments and locations where they served throughout their careers are included in the clergy status report.

Claudia Vercellotti, a local leader with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the diocese should publicly announce what she called “the most violating thing that you can do to a child,” just as she said the diocese does for its fund-raisers.

“Putting it secretly on your website is like putting a note in a bottle and throwing it in the ocean,” Ms. Vercellotti said. “You can’t fix a problem in secrecy; you can’t protect kids in secrecy; you can’t bring healing in secrecy.”

She applauded the victim or victims who came forward with the recently reviewed allegations.

“The victim that came forward, I am completely grateful for their courage,” Ms. Vercellotti said. “They have no idea what healing that they have set in motion.”

She added that “it’s never too late to do the right thing,” noting that that means both the bishop’s actions to protect children and victims in coming forward.

Ms. Donaghy wrote that “the Church” employs a variety of means to support individuals through their healing.

“Anyone who has made a substantiated allegation of abuse against a cleric or other representative of the Church is offered the compassionate care of the Victim Assistance Coordinator, the pastoral and spiritual support of the Church, and counseling assistance with a counselor of their choosing, for as long as it is helpful,” Ms. Donaghy wrote.

To report any sexual abuse of a minor by diocesan personnel, individuals may call the Diocese of Toledo’s victim assistance coordinator at 419-244-6711 ext. 4880.

Contact Sarah Readdean at: sreaddean@theblade.com.