Sexual-Misconduct Accusation against Priest Made More Than 25 Years after His Death

By Darren Barbee
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
September 8, 2008

A deceased Decatur priest has been accused of sexual misconduct with a boy three decades ago, Fort Worth Roman Catholic Diocese officials said Monday.

The diocese was notified about the accusations against the priest, the Rev. Francis A. Zimmerer, on Aug. 25 by the man's spouse, diocese officials said.

"We've received a credible allegation," said the Rev. James Hart, chancellor of the diocese. "This would have happened when he was 11 years of age, which would be 1978."

Zimmerer, a Benedictine order priest, died in 1983 at age 74. He was assigned as administrator of the parish at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church in Decatur in January 1975 and served there until May 1981.

The man, who is now 42, lives out of state but was a member of the church as a boy. He was allegedly abused in the priest's rectory.

After being notified of the accusation, Hart contacted the diocese conduct review board and then Decatur police. The diocese has offered the man counseling.

Hart contacted the Star-Telegram about the accusation, continuing the diocese's policy of openly airing allegations of sexual abuse. Diocese officials also went to the church to ask that anyone abused by Zimmerer come forward. Hart said the diocese has received no other accusations against Zimmerer.

Barbara Dorris, outreach director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said in a statement that the organization is grateful that the family came forward.

"We hope that others who saw, suspected or suffered sex crimes or misconduct by . . . Zimmerer will come forward and get help from independent sources," she said. "Even when the perpetrator is dead, it can be very healing when a victim unburdens himself or herself of these horrible secrets."

Contact: DARREN BARBEE, 817-390-7126,


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