Panel Reviews Sex Claims against Priest
Cleric Removed from Ministry As Columbus Diocese Board Examines Allegations of Abuse

By Dennis M. Mahoney
The Columbus Dispatch
January 18, 2006

Members of a Columbus Catholic Diocese board that reviews clergy sex-abuse cases are weighing what should be done about a priest accused of abusing a minor.

The diocese yesterday would not name the priest or provide details of the allegations against him. The seven-member review board, set up after the sex-abuse scandal that rocked the U.S. church in 2002, was briefed on the case by diocesan officials yesterday, said Robin Miller, spokeswoman for the diocese.

The board will consider the case and make a recommendation to Bishop Frederick Campbell on what action, if any, should be taken against the priest, she said. The bishop will make the final decision.

Miller said she could not name the priest, give the age or gender of his alleged victim, disclose when or where the alleged abuse occurred or say when the allegation was first made.

The board has 10 days to make a recommendation, she said.

The accused priest has been removed from ministry until the case is resolved, she said.

Board members did not return calls yesterday seeking information on the allegation.

Since 2002, three Columbus Diocese priests have been expelled from the priesthood.

Joseph Fete and Michael Ellifritz were kicked out by the Vatican after admitting they sexually abused minors.

Martin Weithman was removed as pastor of Seton Parish in Pickerington after he was accused of molesting a teenage boy in the late 1980s. Although he maintained his innocence, Weithman reached a settlement with the diocese in 2004 and also was removed from the priesthood.


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