A Dedicated Few Remain Vigilant to Protect Children after Sex Offender Is Ordained

By Rachel Platt
November 5, 2009

[with video]

Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) - Another voice is weighing in on whether a convicted sex offender - a child molester - should be an ordained minister in Louisville.

This newest voice is a long time advocate for victims and saw firsthand the damaging effects of clergy abuse.

Richard Lauersdorf is a man on a mission. Twice a week he carries signs of protest in front of the City of Refuge worship center in Germantown.

He's been protesting ever since Mark Hourigan, a convicted sex offender, was ordained a minister there.

"There's probably over a dozen children that go in here and I find a problem with that," says Lauersdorf.

Lauersdorf says he is a concerned citizen of Germantown. John C. Scott has also taken up the cause.

"I'm from another area but I am concerned about what's going on right here," says Scott.

Hourigan was arrested in 1998 and convicted of being a child molester. As part of his probation, he was ordered not to serve in a leadership role in any church.

Those terms have now expired and recently Hourigan told a national audience he's a changed man.

"I've learned that I have to change the way I think in order to change my actions and behavior and I've learned a lot of things as far as what situations not to place myself in," said Hourigan.

The core of this controversy is about whether a child molester change their ways and whether they deserve a second chance?

A local priest who has made his name fighting clergy abuse thinks that a child molester deserves a second chance as a member of this church but not as a minister.

Father Joseph Fowler is a retired Louisville priest and has long been a champion for victims. He earned national attention when he condemned clergy abuse in the Catholic Church and supported the victims.

"It's kind of like putting an alcoholic you know, back making beer or something. It's just too close to the situation," says Father Fowler.

Just last weekend, Father Fowler received praise and a national award from the Voice of the Faithful, which is a group of clergy abuse survivors.

Father Fowler says his mission is to protect those who are vulnerable.

"I just can't imagine putting somebody in a position of authority over youth that's been convicted of a sex offense," he says.

You won't see Father Fowler holding signs of protest in Germantown but his voice lends itself to an even louder chorus of discontent.

Father Fowler doesn't speak for the Archdiocese of Louisville and the City of Refuge Worship Center isn't part of the archdiocese.

WHAS11 News left messages at the City of Refuge for comment, but haven't heard back.


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