Archdiocese Reinstates Controversial Priest after Vatican Ruling

Beacon Journal
February 14, 2008

A Roman Catholic priest who was fined for soliciting sex in a park and later acquitted of separate charges that he raped a boy has been reinstated, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati announced Thursday.

The move came after the Vatican reviewed the case and gave approval for the Rev. Raymond Larger to be returned to active duties. Larger, 56, will be assigned to the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains downtown and will work at the archdiocese chancery office.

"I believe in Father Larger's innocence and am thankful that the clearing of his name makes possible his return to a ministerial role," Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk said in a statement.

Pilarczyk said he believes the Vatican handled the matter "thoughtfully and with justice."

In 2003, Larger pleaded no contest to public indecency and soliciting sex from a male undercover officer in a park in Dayton. A magistrate fined him $100 and placed him on probation.

A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt but a statement that no defense will be offered, leaving the defendant subject to being judged guilty and punished.

Over the objections of a support group for victims of clergy abuse, Pilarczyk returned Larger to active duty after the plea.

In July 2005, Larger was indicted on charges that he raped a boy while he was a pastor in the 1990s. He was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of his case.

A Hamilton County Common Pleas judge acquitted Larger, saying the accuser's story wasn't believable. Another judge later ruled in Larger's favor in a civil lawsuit, a decision that was upheld on appeal last year.

The archdiocese pleaded no contest in 2003 to charges that it failed to tell authorities that priests had been accused of sexual abuse. The archdiocese agreed to set up a $3 million fund to compensate victims of the priests' abuse.

Larger could not be reached for comment. There was no listing for him in the Cincinnati-area telephone directory.


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