Catholic Priest Removed over Sexual Abuse Allegation

February 28, 2006

A former Cape Girardeau priest has been dismissed from his post in the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Catholic Diocese following an investigation of sexual misconduct allegations.

The diocese said in a news release Monday that Monsignor Stephen Schneider violated the diocese's standards of conduct for alleged sexual misconduct with a minor and that he will no longer function as a priest.

Bishop John Leibrecht of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Catholic Diocese told parishioners at St. Peter the Apostle Church in Joplin, Mo., where Schneider was assigned, that Schneider had been relieved of all duties as pastor at the church.

The allegations were first brought before the diocese in December. According to the news release, diocesan officials then notified law enforcement.

No charges have been filed. The bishop, who appeared at weekend services at the church, said a law enforcement investigation had concluded that the allegation, which was not detailed, did not warrant criminal prosecution.

The allegation was then brought before the diocesan sexual misconduct review board, which concluded that Schneider violated diocesan standards for conduct.

An interim pastor will be named to the Joplin church shortly, Leibrecht said.

Schneider was associate pastor at St. Mary's Cathedral in Cape Girardeau until 1974, when he was named director of Sacred Heart House of Studies, a diocesan minor seminary, in Springfield, Mo. Later, he served as pastor at St. John Catholic Church in Leopold, Mo. In August 1985, he was named pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Jackson. In 1991, Schneider left the Jackson parish after being re-assigned to Immaculate Conception parish in Springfield.

Staff writer Callie Clark Miller contributed to this report.


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