Priest Dies before Accusation of Abuse Can Be Resolved

By Christy Arnold
The Enquirer [Cincinnati OH]
September 13, 2005

A priest who was suspended over allegations that he abused a girl at St. Rita School for the Deaf in the 1970s died Saturday.

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati suspended the Rev. Stanley Doerger, 72, and two other priests in March when abuse accusations surfaced after an independent tribunal awarded $3.2 million to 120 to 134 people.

"There's been an ongoing investigation" of Doerger's case, said church spokesman Dan Andriacco.

A review board makes a recommendation to the archbishop, who can then lift the suspension or forward the case to the Vatican for permanent removal or trial. The archbishop had not made a decision regarding Doerger's case, or the cases of suspended priests Michael Paraniuk and David Vincent.

"The status is the same for all three," Andriacco said. They cannot celebrate Mass or perform other duties while suspended.

Doerger, pastor at St. Bernard Church-Taylor Creek, had denied the abuse allegations.

"I don't know what the basis for them are," Doerger said in March. "I have expressed my innocence."

An outside investigator looked into an accusation in 2003 when a woman claimed to have been sexually abused by Doerger while she was a student at St. Rita in the 1970s. That investigator found people close to the woman who disagreed with many of her statements. Since then, a group of former students alleged that Doerger sexually, physically and verbally abused more than 275 female students, though no names or details were provided to the church, according to the archdiocese.

The cause of Doerger's death could not be confirmed Monday night, but Andriacco thought the priest suffered a heart attack.

Richard Doerger, a brother, declined to comment Monday.

Doerger will be buried as a priest. Visitation is 4-8 p.m. Thursday at Elder High School. Mass of Christian burial will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Ignatius Church, Monfort Heights, with burial at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Montgomery.