Priest Accused of Sexual Misconduct with Women Placed on Leave

Associated Press State & Local Wire
June 15, 2002

A priest accused of molesting two women in the 1960s has been placed on administrative leave - the second sexual misconduct case to rock his parish in the past month.

The move placing the Rev. Francis Schroering on administrative leave in effect leaves his Haubstadt, Ind., parish with no full-time priest.

Last month, the assistant pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Rev. Mark Kurzendoerfer, was removed from ministry for violating restrictions placed on him after he admitted having a sexual relationship with 14-year-old boy more than 20 years ago.

Schroering was placed on administrative leave effective Tuesday, Evansville Diocese spokesman Paul Leingang said Friday.

The diocese has named another priest to take over sacraments at Sts. Peter and Paul, where Schroering has served as pastor since 1991.

Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger, in a statement sent to all 650 families that attend Sts. Peter and Paul, stated that: "Father Schroering will remain on administrative leave throughout the investigation of allegations of sexual abuse alleged to have taken place" in the 1960s.

Gettelfinger described administrative leave as the temporary removal of a priest from priestly duties during the course of an investigation of reports of misconduct.

Schroering denies the allegations against him. Messages left Friday by the Evansville Courier & Press for Schroering, 69, at the church parish were not returned.

A former Vincennes resident claims she was 7 years old in 1963 when Schroering allegedly molested her in a church rectory. And a Newburgh woman claims Schroering pinned her against the wall when she was 18 in 1969 and fondled her while he visited her home to counsel her.

Both allegations are being investigated. Schroering continues to deny knowing either women or that the alleged assaults took place.

Gettelfinger said earlier this week that Schroering would be suspended, although he would not specify went that would take place.

Leingang said Gettelfinger had followed an amended policy on abuse allegations that took effect in March. It requires the bishop to immediately place an accused priest on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

Within the past six weeks, the Evansville Diocese has acknowledged that five of its priests have been accused of sexual misconduct within its ministry.

The Rev. Michael Allen and Kurzendoerfer both admitted to sexual misconduct which took place more than 20 years ago. Allen remains in the ministry, but Gettelfinger announced Friday that Allen will be removed from active ministry.

Kurzendoerfer initially was returned to the ministry after confirming the allegations but has since been removed from active ministry. Kurzendoerfer is still contemplating his future, Leingang said.

The Rev. Richard J. Wildeman chose to leave the priesthood after recently admitting he engaged in sexual misconduct with a 16-year-old girl nearly 20 years ago.

And the Rev. Joseph Clauss was terminated from active ministry and has been confined for more than a decade to an institution in New Mexico for priests who are sexual offenders.


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