Ex-St. Francis Pastor Accused of Abuse
Man Says Misconduct Occurred in Illinois in Late 1970s

By Benjamin Kline
Dayton Daily News [Centerville OH]
September 28, 2005

CENTERVILLE | The Franciscan order of the Roman Catholic Church is investigating sexual misconduct allegations against the Rev. John Turnbull, 76, a former pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Centerville.

Worshippers heard the news when the Rev. Tom Schmidt, the current pastor, read an official letter at Masses Sept. 10 and 11. A similar letter was read at Holy Family parish at Oldenburg, Ind., where Turnbull has been working the past three years. Toni Cashnelli, spokeswoman for the Franciscans' St. John the Baptist province, Cincinnati, said the accuser is a man who says he was abused while a parochial school student at Streator, Ill., during the late 1970s. The Diocese of Peoria has been informed of the allegation, she said.

No other abuse accusations have been brought but the order welcomes any information, the letter stated. Friar Jim Van Vurst (who can be reached at (513) 721-4700, Ext. 3214) is taking all reports.

Turnbull had pastor or associate pastor jobs at Lafayette, Ind.; Peoria, Fort Wayne and Batesville, Ind., Streator and Cincinnati before he was assigned to the Centerville parish in 1993-2002.

When Turnbull left Centerville, the Franciscans gave up staffing the parish and three others because of a shortage of personnel, and its leadership reverted to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, archdiocesan spokesman Dan Andriacco said.

The allegation will be investigated independently by Praesidium, an Arlington, Texas-based national abuse risk management organization, Cashnelli said. If allegations were proved the accused would be removed from the ministry.


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