More Sex Abuse Charges for Priest

By Kevin Wheatley
The State Journal
October 22, 2009

A former Good Shepherd associate pastor, who was suspended in July for alleged sexual misconduct in Frankfort going back to the 1980s, has been indicted on similar charges.

Rev. Joseph N. Muench (pronounced “minch”), 54, of Lexington, sexually abused one victim by force between July 1, 1980, and Dec. 31, 1981, and another by force between July 1, 1984, and Dec. 31, 1985, the indictment says.

The two victims were in their late teens or early 20s at the time, and their names won’t be released, Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland said.

“We’re going to maintain the confidentiality of the witnesses, so for that reason, there really isn’t a lot I can say other than the basic acts that led to his indictment,” Cleveland said.

The State Journal reported in July that the Catholic Diocese of Lexington’s Bishop Ronald W. Gainer suspended Muench July 13 after investigating the alleged sexual misconduct. He was the pastor at Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary in Lexington at the time.

The lawyer representing the three men in the original allegations, B. Keith Saksefski of Louisville, said in a letter to the diocese that the sexual abuses happened while Muench was an associate pastor at Good Shepherd between 1984 and 1986.

Calls to Saksefski were not returned.

As called for by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 2002 “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” the review board advises the bishop when allegations of sexual misconduct or sexual abuse are brought against a priest.

“Meeting July 8, the review board determined that the preliminary investigation of the allegations possessed a semblance of truth, warranting the suspension of ministry and further investigation,” a statement from the diocese in July said.

Cleveland became aware of the case against Muench after the diocese’s investigation found evidence of sexual misconduct, he said. The diocese forwarded its information to Cleveland, and he began working on the case.

“We’ve been interviewing people, reviewing transcripts of other interviews conducted by other people and meeting with the city police and determining how best to proceed.”

Cleveland said police helped him interview the victims and other witnesses.

Cleveland said he wasn’t aware of any indictments in other counties.


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