Alleged '50s Abuse Gets Priest Suspended

By Dan Horn
Cincinnati Enquirer
May 2, 2008

A Cincinnati priest was suspended Thursday after he was accused of sexually abusing a boy in the 1950s.

Church officials put the Rev. Robert Stricker, 84, on administrative leave pending an investigation into one of the oldest abuse accusations in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

More than a dozen priests have been suspended or removed from ministry because of abuse allegations in the archdiocese, but few of those cases involve claims that date back 50 years or more.

The archdiocese's Child Protection Review Board will investigate the accusation and make a recommendation to Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk, who will decide whether to refer Stricker to the Vatican for permanent removal from the priesthood. Pilarczyk already has found that the accusation has a "semblance of truth," the standard the church uses to determine whether a priest should be suspended.

Church spokesman Dan Andriacco said the man who made the accusation first came forward in 1993, but church officials took no action then because the claim was deemed "unsubstantiated."

But when he made the accusation again this year, Andriacco said, the alleged victim provided additional evidence. Andriacco would not describe that evidence, and the priest's accuser has not been identified.

The accuser was a child at the time and Stricker was an associate pastor at St. William parish in West Price Hill.

Stricker, who could not be reached, has denied abusing the boy, Andriacco said.

Christy Miller, a leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the archdiocese should have acted in 1993.

"I am happy they took action," she said. "But it is just heart-wrenching they had to put this victim through this a second time."

Stricker, who was ordained in 1948, has served as a co-pastor at several churches, pastor of St. Boniface in Northside, a teacher at Elder High School in West Price Hill, librarian of the Athenaeum of Ohio in Mount Washington and the archivist of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

His suspension means he may not celebrate the sacraments, engage in ministry or present himself as a priest.


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