Two Missouri Priests Removed over Abuse Allegations

By Alan Scher Zagier
The Associated Press carried in News Tribune
April 27, 2006

Two small-town Roman Catholic priests have been removed from active service by the Diocese of Jefferson City following allegations of sexual misconduct.

The diocese is investigating claims against the Rev. Louis E. Dorn of St. Joseph Catholic Church in the northeast Missouri town of Louisiana and the Rev. John Joseph Schutty of St. Cecilia Catholic Church in the Osage County town of Meta, church officials said Wednesday.

"We're following policy," said Sister Ethel-Marie Biri, chancellor for the diocese. "It does not presume guilt."

The allegations do not stem from either priest's current parish, she said.

"They're from years ago," said Biri, who referred to the action as "administrative leaves."

Dorn, who turns 60 next week, is listed on the diocese's Web site as chair of its liturgical commission. He is also a board member of the National Federation Priests' Council, a pastoral organization based in Chicago.

Biri did not immediately respond to an Associated Press request for Dorn's previous posts, but public records show he also has lived in Marshall, Jefferson City and Fulton.

Dorn did not respond to an e-mail request for comment. A woman who answered the phone Tuesday at St. Joseph said he was "gone for a few months."

Schutty, 74, apparently remains at the Meta parish. Reached by phone at the church Tuesday, he hung up when asked about the allegations. Public records list previous addresses for Schutty in Jefferson City and Eugene on the border of Cole and Miller counties.

Should the allegations be proven by the diocese's internal investigation, any subsequent discipline, including permanent removal from the clergy, would be up to the Vatican, said Biri.

She said additional details about the allegations cannot be released to protect the accusers as well as the two priests.

But the Rev. James Smith, St. Peter's associate pastor, said that even publicizing the diocese's preliminary action is a disservice to the two men.

"It's nobody's business," he said. "There is a way this is handled in the diocese."

The removals in Jefferson City come as another Missouri diocese, the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, finds itself among the 11.5 percent of dioceses nationwide identified in an independent audit as falling short of full compliance with reforms enacted after the nationwide priest abuse scandal of 2002.

The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday that the diocese did not meet the standards for establishing "safe environment" programs that educate children and adults on ways to prevent sexual abuse.

The church's Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, put in place by bishops four years ago, requires children enrolled in vacation Bible school or parish religious education programs receive the same information as children who attend Catholic schools full time.

A spokeswoman for the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese told The Star the noncompliance was a misunderstanding, noting that the diocese was fully compliant in two previous annual audits.

The diocese chose to wait until this year to create a more comprehensive program for the part-time students rather than implement a program by the end of 2005, which would have put it into full compliance, Vicar General Robert Murphy said.

Critics called the noncompliance rating disturbing.

"They've had four years, and almost every other diocese in America did this long ago," David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, told The Star.


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