Ill. Priest Defrocked over Sex Allegations
Peoria Monsignor Removed from Priesthood over Sex Abuse Allegations

Associated Press, carried in St. Louis Post-Dispatch
November 10, 2006

Peoria, Ill. (AP) -- Monsignor Thomas R. Miller has been dismissed from the priesthood by the Vatican over accusations of sexual misconduct with minors, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria announced Thursday evening.

The penalty imposed by Rome takes effect immediately, and bars Miller from all pastoral offices and priestly duties, the diocese said.

Miller, who is in his mid-50s, was initially accused in 2004 of having sexual contact with a minor in Bloomington in 1979. At the time of the accusation, Miller was pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Peoria. He had earlier served at St. Bernard Parish in Peoria, Holy Trinity in Bloomington and at Schlarman High School in Danville.

The man who made the initial accusation against Miller is now in his mid to late 30s. Diocesan spokesmen said more accusations followed the first, although they declined to say how many individuals had made complaints.

According to a diocesan statement in May, Miller "denied key elements of the allegations and admitted others."

A diocesan sexual misconduct commission advised Bishop Daniel Jenky that the allegations against Miller were credible, and a full investigation by the diocese followed before the case was sent to Rome.

Miller's suspension was ordered after the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reviewed all documents presented in the case and judged Miller guilty.

Miller has 30 days to appeal the decision, the diocesan statement said, "but the dismissal from the clerical state stands pending the appeal."

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith hears all appeals and renders a final decision with no right to further appeal.

Since 1950, 14 priests from the 26-county Peoria diocese have been accused of sexual misconduct involving minors, according to figures provided for the first church-sanctioned tally of abuse cases. The investigation into Miller was the first in the diocese since new church guidelines were established for handling sex abuse allegations after the abuse problem rose to national prominence.


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