Police Never Opened an Investigation into Case

By Alicia Ebaugh
Herald Argus
April 20, 2010

Although an allegation of sexual abuse against Father Terrance Chase of Queen of All Saints Catholic Church in Michigan City was reportedly given to police nearly a month ago, they never opened an investigation into the case.

"I can find no record of a report here," said Chesterton Police Chief Dave Cincoski. "We had no knowledge of this case until we read it in the papers this morning."

Kelly Venegas, the bishop's delegate for sexual misconduct, called Chesterton police within one week of receiving the complaint, Plaiss said. The "officer on duty," as the officer was identified to Venegas, told her "there was nothing they could do" unless the victim identified him or herself, or she identified the victim something she couldn't do, Plaiss said.

"We are bound to confidentiality in these cases," said Deacon Mark Plaiss, director of communications for the Diocese. "That person has refused to identify themselves to law enforcement, so we couldn't make a report for them."

As a result, no criminal charges would be forthcoming even if the allegations were true. Cincoski did not return a follow-up message for comment Monday.

Any case in which the victim is not identified, especially a case that is as old as this one, present unique challenges to law enforcement, said Michigan City Assistant Police Chief John Kintzele.

"Depending on the offense, there are statutory regulations you cannot satisfy without a definitive victim," he said.

Applicable sections of Indiana Code regarding sex offenses with a minor rely heavily on the age of the victim at the time of the offense, as well as the person's relationship with the victim. Indiana case law has established a victim's right to report sexual abuse that happened more than two years before the date of the report if they meet several requirements, including showing their parents did not know of the conduct and providing expert opinion and evidence their memories of the event(s) were repressed. All require a victim to be identified before these facts can be proven.

"When you have a high-profile case like this, it polarizes the community," Kintzele said. "The quality of the evidence you are able to obtain and the search for the truth are all that more important."

Any original material on these pages is copyright 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.