More Sexual-misconduct Claims Made against Priest

By Peter Smith
The Courier-Journal
September 13, 2009

Police and church officials are investigating a growing number of allegations of sexual misconduct by a Roman Catholic priest who was placed on leave in July after the first allegation surfaced.

In the weeks since the Archdiocese of Louisville removed the Rev. James R. Schook, four more people have approached church officials reporting sexual misconduct.

The church is continuing to investigate the claims and has reported them to civil authorities, according to Brian Reynolds, chancellor and chief administrative officer of the archdiocese.

Alicia Smiley, spokeswoman for Louisville Metro Police, said the Crimes Against Children Unit is in the early stages of an investigation. Officers have interviewed one person alleging abuse, and they are investigating another alleged incident.

No charges have been filed.

Reynolds said the reports received by the archdiocese date to the 1970s and 1980s, and none involve people who are currently children.

"Anyone who makes a report is invited to meet with our Victim Assistance Coordinator and these conversations are continuing," he said in an e-mail.

While one person reported being an adult at the time of an alleged incident of sexual misconduct by Schook, other allegations involve people who were children at the time.

Schook was serving as pastor of St. Ignatius Martyr Church on Rangeland Road when he was placed on leave in July. That followed a report by a man alleging he had been abused by Schook in 1985. Schook is prohibited from public ministry pending the investigation, Reynolds said.

He said that in two cases, people have phoned the archdiocese and gave a summary of their allegations. The archdiocese has invited them to meet and provide more specifics.

"The archdiocese is fully cooperating with any civil investigations," Reynolds said. "The Archdiocese of Louisville Review Board is informed about all reports and will in time complete their review and offer their recommendations to Archbishop Kurtz. Eventually we will make a full report on all that we learn but it is still premature to do so.

He said that in all, the archdiocese has heard from dozens of people about Schook, most of them praising his work as a priest.

Schook, 61, who was ordained in 1975, previously worked at St. Thomas More, St. Raphael, Ascension, St. Lawrence, St. Polycarp and Our Lady of Consolation parishes in Louisville. St. Polycarp and Our Lady are now part of St. Peter the Apostle.

He also worked in the Catholic Deaf Community Ministry, St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi Church in Payneville, Ky., and St. Theresa Church in Rhodelia, Ky., according to the archdiocese.

Reporter Peter Smith can be reached at (502) 582-4469.



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