Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese Opens up about Sexual Abuse Allegations

By Rachel Martin
Indiana's News Center
December 7, 2011

[with video]

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Officials from the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese opened up Wednesday about details surrounding the sexual abuse allegations against Fr. Thomas Lombardi.

Indiana’s NewsCenter contacted the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese a series of questions. Officials from the Diocese were unable to do an on-camera interview, but Monsignor Robert Shulte responded to our questions via email.

We asked Msgr. Shulte:

Q: Has there been any type of settlement with the victim?

A: Right now, they are still in the investigative stage. Right now, it is just a report.

Q: What is Father Lombardi’s status? Can he go to another church and serve as priest?

A: He has withdrawn from exercising his ministry as pastor and he is not allowed to do any ministry as pastor.

Q: Where did the alleged incident occur?

A: The accuser victim has asked to remain anonymous, so because of that request for privacy, that is not being known at this time.

Q: What is the policy of the Diocese in handling cases like this?

A: According to a list of procedures found on the Diocese’s website, the Diocese will conduct an investigation and question the accused priest. If the allegations appear plausible, the priest will be removed from his ministry and relocated.

Q: What was the timeline in this case?

A: A formal report was filed last week.

Q: To what extent did the Diocese investigate this?

A: Ongoing investigation.

Q: Will there be a continued investigation to see if there are more victims? Will you be going to the all of the churches where Father Lombardi served to see if there are more victims and let parishioners know of the allegations?

A: Policy is, twice a year all parishes put statements in their bulletins about victims coming forward in a safe environment. A statement was released in the bulletin this past weekend.

Q: What is the next step?

A: The investigation continues and we pray for all involved. As soon as we are able to wrap up the investigation, it goes to the Bishop and he makes the final decision.

Q: What is your response to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests’ (SNAP) public statement?

A: We are giving as much information as possible while protecting the victim’s privacy.

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