Once Accused, Priest Reinstated

By Dan Horn
Cincinnati Enquirer
February 14, 2008

The Vatican reinstated a Cincinnati priest Thursday after concluding there was no merit to accusations of sexual abuse against him.

The decision came more than two years after a judge dismissed criminal charges against the Rev. Raymond Larger, the only priest in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to face trial since the clergy abuse scandal erupted in 2002.

Larger, who has been suspended with pay for three years, now may preside at masses and perform other priestly duties.

"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.

Church spokesman Dan Andriacco said the archdiocese has placed no restrictions on Larger, but he has been assigned to an administrative post at the Chancery of the Archdiocese downtown.

The accusations against Larger arose when Dale Ramminger, 21, filed a claim with the archdiocese's $3 million victim compensation fund. Church officials then referred the case to Hamilton County prosecutors.

Larger was indicted on charges of abusing Ramminger from 1995 to 1997 while he was a student at St. James School in White Oak.

After hearing Ramminger testify at the trial in 2005, Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman dismissed the charges. The judge said Ramminger's story was not believable.

The independent tribunal that evaluated abuse claims for the compensation fund also rejected Ramminger's claim.

"We had an unscrupulous young man who sought an opportunity to enrich himself financially," said Hal Arenstein, Larger's lawyer. "The only way he could do that was to lash out at a good priest."

Larger could not be reached Thursday, but Arenstein said his reinstatement is long overdue.

A victim's advocate, however, said she believes the accusations against Larger.

"He should not be reinstated. He should be defrocked," said Christy Miller, co-leader of the Cincinnati chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Church officials say the Vatican reviewed Ramminger's case, as well as two other accusations that were made against Larger after he was charged.

Andriacco said Hamilton County prosecutors, who could not be reached Thursday, reviewed the other accusations and did not seek charges.

The Vatican concluded that none of the accusations warranted continuing Larger's suspension.

Larger, 56, has a previous conviction on sex-related charges, but that charge did not involve a minor. He was sentenced to a year of probation in 2003 after a conviction for soliciting sex from a male police officer in Dayton.



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