How Did Ex-priest Accused of Abuse Get Organist Job at Macomb Co. Parish?

By Patricia Montemurri
Detroit Free Press
January 27, 2011|head

The Archdiocese of Detroit said today it will investigate how a former priest, removed from the priesthood in Toledo because of abuse allegations, was able to work as an organist recently at a Macomb County Catholic parish.

The archdiocese’s action came in response to revelations by the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a support group for abuse victims.

SNAP members revealed that Herbert Richey, who was laicized from the priesthood in 1997 in Toledo because of several allegations that he had molested boys, had recently worked as an organist at St. Margaret of Scotland parish in St. Clair Shores, and possibly other Detroit-area parishes.

The archdiocese confirmed that in a statement released after SNAP members called a press conference this afternoon in front of the archdiocese’s downtown headquarters. Moreover, archdiocese spokesman Ned McGrath said Richey had been banned from working in any archdiocese parish or school in 2002, when it was learned he’d been in similar job at St. Joseph parish in Trenton.

McGrath, in a statement, said Richey “was immediately removed and ordered by the Detroit archdiocese not to work in any of its parishes or schools” back in 2002, at a time when the Catholic church was responding to a vociferous outcry about its secretive handling of priests accused of sexually abusing minors.

Since then, Detroit and Catholic dioceses nationwide have instituted background checks and screening procedures to prevent this kind of occurrence.

Matt Jatczak, SNAP’s Detroit leader, dropped off a letter addressed to Detroit Catholic Archbishop Allen Vigneron, demanding to know how Richey ended up working in Catholic churches when “ a simple Google search would have revealed the multiple credible and serious allegations against Richey that led to his being permanently defrocked by the Vatican.”

The Toledo Blade reported in 2005 that Richey was removed from ministry in 1992 and defrocked in 1997 after at least four boys in three Ohio parishes accused him of sexual abuse. Richey was never charged with a crime, despite an investigation by the Erie County Sheriff’s office. The Diocese of Toledo website also lists Richey as a former priest removed from ministry because of abuse allegations.

Jatczak said SNAP was alerted to Richey’s Detroit-area work by a Catholic parishioner who knew of Richey’s past.

“The Archdiocesan Review Board will commence an investigation of this matter with the intention of assuring this unacceptable situation does not happen again,” the archdiocese’s McGrath said in a statement.

Contact Patricia Montemurri: or 313-223-4538.


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