Priest Reinstated; Abuse Claim Unproven

By Dan Horn
Cincinnati Enquirer
July 17, 2008

A suspended Cincinnati priest was reinstated today after church officials said they could not prove a claim that he abused a boy in the 1950s.

The Rev. Robert Stricker, 85, had been on administrative leave for two months and is now cleared to return to ministry. He is retired, but has worked for years as a priest at St. Therese, the Little Flower in Mount Airy.

Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk's decision to reinstate Stricker ended an investigation into one of the oldest abuse allegations in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Church officials also notified local authorities, but no criminal charges were filed.

Stricker's accuser first went to church officials in 1993, but they said they could not substantiate the allegation.

The archdiocese suspended Stricker in May when the accuser came forward with new information, which church officials would not disclose. Pilarczyk said the new claim had a "semblance of truth" the standard needed to suspend a priest but would require more investigation.

He said that investigation ended Thursday with the announcement that church officials again could not substantiate the claim against Stricker.

Stricker, who has not been accused by anyone else, has denied the allegations. He could not be reached today.

"As we continued the investigation, the archbishop concluded that what we learned did not warrant keeping Father Stricker on administrative leave any longer," said Dan Andriacco, the archdiocese's spokesman.

The accuser has not been identified, but members of the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests have said they believe he is credible. Dan Frondorf, co-leader of the group, said the length of time makes proving the abuse difficult.

"When an accusation is as old as this, I don't know how they can do a conclusive investigation on either end," Frondorf said.

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

Stricker is one of several priests who have been reinstated in the past few years after the archdiocese and authorities could not prove allegations against them.

Nine archdiocese priests have been permanently removed from the priesthood or barred from ministry because of abuse accusations. Seven others remain on administrative leave.

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, librarian of the Athenaeum of Ohio and the archivist of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.


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