Retired Priest Suspended for Late '70s Urbana Allegations

The Associated Press, carried in The Beacon Journal
March 15, 2006

CINCINNATI - The Archdiocese of Cincinnati put a retired Roman Catholic priest on administrative leave Wednesday because of child sexual abuse allegations stemming from his time as a pastor in Urbana nearly three decades ago.

As a result of the action, Donald E. Shelander cannot celebrate the sacraments or present himself as a priest in any way. Shelander, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Urbana in 1977-83, retired in 2002, the archdiocese said.

"So far as we can determine from our records, these are the first allegations of sexual abuse against him," said archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco.

An adult male recently reported to the archdiocese that Shelander engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with him when the man was 14 to 18 years old. A private investigator for the archdiocese looked into the allegations, and the archdiocese found that they had "the semblance of truth." However, Wednesday's action by Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk doesn't mean a presumption of guilt, the archdiocese said.

Shelander could not be reached for comment Wednesday. There was no answer to telephone calls to his home.

The accusation also was reported to legal authorities, the archdiocese said, but details weren't immediately available.

The archdiocese said Shelander, 69, was ordained in 1970; served as associate pastor of St. Bernard, Springfield (1970-74); associate pastor at St. Mary, Urbana (1974-77); pastor at St. Mary (1977-83); pastor of St. Patrick, Bellefontaine (1983-94), and then pastor at Sts. Peter and Paul, Newport, Ohio (1994-2002).

"We understand that the archdiocese has been unable to say whether he has been saying Mass at any churches since his retirement," said Christy Miller, co-leader of the Cincinnati chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a national support organization for clergy abuse victims. "We don't know if anyone was put in harm's way since he retired, and we have no way of notifying people if we don't know where he's been."

She said self-reporting by the archdiocese doesn't work. Her group has repeatedly argued that accusations of abuse by priests need to be investigated by an independent third party.

The Cincinnati archdiocese pleaded no contest in 2003 to charges that it failed to inform authorities that its priests had been accused of sex abuse. The 19-county archdiocese also agreed to set up a $3 million fund to compensate abuse victims.


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