Pedophile Priest: 'I Believed I Was Acting out of Love
Albrecht, on Leave since '93, Molested Local Boy in '70s
By Lynn Hulsey
Dayton Daily News (Ohio)
May 5, 2002
The Rev. G.R. Keith Albrecht considered himself a friend to troubled teen-age boys. He counseled them and let two live in his Coldwater parish rectory.
The Catholic priest also masturbated with boys, fondled their genitals and allowed them to touch his.
"I had deluded myself," said Albrecht, 56, now living under administrative leave in a converted convent in Cincinnati. "I didn't have any sense of guilt. I didn't see it as abuse."
Albrecht was placed on leave in February 1993 after he "essentially conceded" to an allegation that he had molested a boy in Beavercreek in the late 1970s when Albrecht was associate pastor of St. Luke Catholic Church, said Dan Andriacco, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
Subsequently, a second allegation was made involving a Shelby County boy who was visiting New York with Albrecht in the late 1980s during his tenure at Holy Trinity in Coldwater. The archdiocese alerted Shelby County Children Services, but no action was taken against the priest.
It was not until Albrecht violated the terms of his administrative leave by saying Mass publicly in New York in 1999 that the Archdiocese tried to defrock him. Citing confidentiality rules, Andriacco refused to confirm the attempt to remove Albrecht from the clergy. Albrecht said the three-judge tribunal allowed him to remain a priest, but Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk declared that Albrecht could never be reinstated to active ministry.
Though Albrecht is not allowed to work for the church, he draws an annual salary of $21,739. His rent and food costs are covered by the archdiocese.
"Would I change anything? I would change everything I did," said Albrecht. "I can't change what I did. That's why I'm a welfare priest."
Despite a promiscuous lifestyle, sometimes carried out in the rectories of his parishes and at times involving sexual molestation of boys, Albrecht evaded punishment by church officials for 15 years, and he's never been charged with a crime. The priest explains his behavior through a mix of remorse and blame-shifting.
"I believed I was acting out of love," he said.
Albrecht is one of three priests in the 19-county archdiocese currently on paid administrative leave for molesting children. The Rev. Thomas Hopp resigned as pastor of Queen of Martyrs Church in Harrison Twp. and was placed on leave last week after he admitted to molesting a boy in Shelby County in 1980. In June, the Rev. Ken Schoettmer, pastor at Queen of Peace Church in Millville, west of Hamilton, was placed on leave for having sex with teen-age boys three times since 1984.
Another group of priests - Andriacco will only say "fewer than five" - have been accused of sexual activities with minors but were reinstated and work in the archdiocese under rules that require continued counseling, monitoring by church officials and other safeguards.
In interviews during several hours last week, Albrecht denied sexual wrongdoing involving the Beavercreek and Shelby County boys. However, he admitted having sexual contact with "about four" teen-age boys, the youngest of whom was 16, and numerous adult males, starting in 1978.
"I acted very inappropriately with a lot of individuals," said Albrecht, saying his final sexual encounter was with an adult in 1987.
"The closest I ever did was mutual masturbation or masturbating another individual. I'm not into the other behaviors."
He said he befriended teens, often those who were troubled, and on at least one occasion a youth came to the rectory at St. Luke and asked him to go to a hotel for sex.
But Albrecht said the St. Luke boy whose accusations led to the priest's ouster from active ministry was not one of his victims. He said he counseled the boy from eighth- to 11th-grade and, in 1978, chose to hypnotise the boy. At some point, the boy exposed his genitals, but Albrecht said he told him to cover up and that was the end of it. Several years later, the victim told archdiocese officials that Albrecht told him to expose himself and then taught him to masturbate.
"Given the fact that there was, on his part, some exposure, it's very easy for the mind to become very confused," Albrecht said.
He said the incident with the boy in New York was an innocent "pinch (on the) behind" when the eighth-grader peered into a pornography shop Albrecht had visited to buy a magazine for a 19-year-old man accompanying the two on the trip.
Albrecht also denies wrongdoing in a lawsuit filed against him and the archdiocese by a Dayton man in 1997. Dana E. Lakin, now 39, claimed Albrecht repeatedly sexually molested him while he was a minor. The lawsuit, filed in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, was dismissed at the plaintiff's request in 1998 before it went to trial.
Lakin could not be reached for comment. Albrecht said that while he knew the man as an adult, "I don't think I had a sexual relationship with him."
But Albrecht said there is plenty of sexual misconduct in his history that the archdiocese did not know about.
He said he was living out a belated adolescence stunted by the responsibilities he assumed at 16 when his father died. And Albrecht said he was a victim also, fondled by a male neighbor at age 10, and raped at 17 by a priest visiting the family's parish on Long Island.
Albrecht said he never forced himself on teen-agers, but acknowledged that to call the acts consensual would be to deny his position as an authority figure.
Albrecht also differentiates between molesting prepubescent children and adolescents.
"I have never touched a child trying to derive sexual pleasure," he said.
Albrecht said he loves children "as a father can love children" and was driven to help troubled youths.
He let a 17-year-old runaway live with him, and sometimes sleep with him in his bed, in the rectory of Holy Trinity for six months. Albrecht said he considered the boy to be much like a son and did not have sexual contact with him. But, he said, "everything seemed like a sexual suggestion to that boy" and he acknowledged that his behavior with the youth was inappropriate and "more than tousling his hair, kind of treating him in what could be interpreted as wrong or what-not."
"I know where my mind was at that point. I cannot translate that without sounding very, very precocious and sexy and things like that. I know how it's going to be interpreted," Albrecht said.
Other than a single parishioner noting that people "might talk" about the living arrangements, Albrecht said no one questioned his behavior, including the associate pastor who lived in the rectory at the same time.
However, an adult former friend said he became increasingly concerned about Albrecht's behavior toward teen-agers.
"He fulfilled their neediness. He zoomed right in on that need and filled it," said the former friend, who asked to remain anonymous. "They probably bought into what good old Father Keith was saying."
Albrecht said he came to terms with his homosexuality years before and began to wind down his sexual activity during his time at Coldwater.
But there was the ugly blackmail incident.
In 1986, a young man he befriended convinced Albrecht to take nude pictures of him in the rectory and then threatened to turn the photographs over to the authorities unless he was paid $15,000, according to Albrecht. The money was never paid, an alleged accomplice attempted suicide, and the young man was arrested on another charge, said Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey. He declined to release details of the incident because the man disappeared before sentencing so the case remains open.
Albrecht said the incident was reported to the archdiocese and he was reprimanded.
Nonetheless, a year later, the archdiocese promoted Albrecht to pastor of Holy Trinity. He describes himself as "a damn good priest" known for his sermons and involvement in anti-hunger efforts.
But less than six years later, he was forced out of the pastorate and into a sort of earthly purgatory, still a priest but forbidden to say Mass, present himself as a priest or wear the priestly collar.
Although Albrecht has repeatedly sought reinstatement, Andriacco said the suspended priest "has not met all the criteria.
"We acted swiftly and appropriately when Keith Albrecht's activities were called to our attention," Andriacco said. "And we certainly have no regrets about that."
Albrecht said he's carved out his own ministry, cooking for retired priests, helping elderly neighbors and serving as a court-appointed guardian for an 80-year-old woman, assisting her with doctor appointments and medication. He's in therapy and in a 12-step program for sex addicts, he said.
While Albrecht said he makes sure he has no contact with children, he also noted that he recently stayed with a 10-year-old girl while her mother went to the emergency room.
He said he knows he's made mistakes but that he has forgiven himself and is no longer a danger to children.
Albrecht worries that people will see him as some kind of monster, while he sees himself as a flawed man in need of others' prayers.
He desperately wants to return to active ministry.
"Bottom line, I've been called to be a priest," he said. "I still think I have something to offer the church. If I can help one person, that's why I became a priest. That I've hurt many, it breaks my heart."
G.R. Keith Albrecht's Resume
* Early 1970s: Voted out of the Franciscan Order in Washington, prior
to taking his solemn vows
* 1977: Ordained after graduating from Mount St. Mary's Seminary of the West, Cincinnati
* July 1977: Associate pastor, St. Luke Church, Beavercreek
* Sept. 1980: Chaplain good Samaritan Hospital, Dayton
* July 1981: Associate pastor, St. Brigid Church, Xenia
* June 1984: Associate pastor, Holy Trinity Church, Coldwater
* June 1987: Pastor, Holy Trinity Church, Coldwater
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