Vatican Overturns Decision in Abuse Case

Kentucky Post [Cincinnati OH]
December 30, 2006

The Vatican has overturned a more than four-year-old decision of Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk to place a former Elder High School teacher on administrative leave.

The Rev. James Kiffmeyer is back on active duty as a priest, and now the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati must find an assignment for him.

The archdiocese's Priest Personnel Board is studying where Kiffmeyer might serve, archdiocesan spokesman Dan Andriacco said.

Kiffmeyer took personal leave from the priesthood and from his teaching job at Elder in April 2002 after a former student accused him of sexual misconduct when Kiffmeyer was teaching at Fenwick High School in Middletown.

The student said the misconduct happened at the end of his senior year and after he graduated from the school, where Kiffmeyer taught from 1985 to 1991. The victim was 18 or older when the alleged misconduct happened, sometime in 1986.

It was not the first allegation against Kiffmeyer.

Another student at Fenwick also accused Kiffmeyer of sexual misconduct. The student was 18 when he said the misconduct occurred in 1990, but didn't tell the archdiocese until 1997.

Kiffmeyer reached a four-figure settlement with that accuser, Andriacco said.

No civil suits were filed or criminal charges brought against Kiffmeyer. He denied that any sexual misconduct happened.

Nevertheless, Pilarczyk placed him on administrative leave, which meant that he couldn't use the title reverend or father, couldn't call himself a priest, couldn't wear clerical garb and couldn't publicly celebrate the sacraments.

Kiffmeyer appealed to the Vatican, saying that Pilarczyk's actions didn't accord with church law.

After a review, the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy agreed.

The congregation ruled in November that Pilarczyk didn't have the right to impose those penalties because the statute of limitations had expired five years after the alleged misconduct happened.

But the congregation ordered Kiffmeyer to avoid situations that might endanger his priestly commitment, and "closely guard his personal behavior so that no further scandal be caused by any of his actions."


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