CASE to Be Resolved Within Church

By Michael O'Connor
The World-Herald
April 6, 2013

The Rev. Franklin A. Dvorak

A sexual abuse allegation against a local Catholic priest will be resolved through an administrative disciplinary process, the Omaha Archdiocese said Friday.

The case involves the Rev. Franklin A. Dvorak of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church. Dvorak denies the allegation, said Deacon Timothy McNeil, the archdiocese's chancellor.

The disciplinary process involves two canon lawyers from outside the archdiocese assisting Archbishop George Lucas in determining Dvorak's innocence or guilt, McNeil said. Dvorak, 69, is accused of sexually abusing a teenage girl in the 1970s.

Dvorak could not be reached for comment.

McNeil said that if the disciplinary process proves Dvorak is not guilty, the archdiocese will publicly exonerate the priest. If he is found guilty, an appropriate penalty will be applied. That could include preventing him from serving as a priest in any capacity or restricting his ministry, McNeil said.

McNeil said a canon lawyer, paid for by the archdiocese, is assisting Dvorak.

The archdiocese last spring notified parishioners and law enforcement officials about the allegation.

An archdiocesan review board, after hearing results of a preliminary investigation, determined there was enough evidence to meet the church's standard for a credible allegation, McNeil said.

Lucas then was obligated to refer the case to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has jurisdiction in judging allegations of sexual abuse of minors, McNeil said. The congregation instructed Lucas to take the next step involving the canon lawyers.

Dvorak has been pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church since 2007 and was placed on administrative leave last April. Dvorak is prohibited from public ministry until the church's canon law process is complete. The Rev. Frank Baumert is serving as parochial administrator.

The woman who lodged the complaint was a high school student when the abuse would have occurred, from 1970 to 1972. At the time, Dvorak was at Sacred Heart Church in Norfolk, his first assignment as a priest.

Dvorak was ordained in 1970. He served at Norfolk's Sacred Heart from 1970 to 1974. The other Nebraska parishes where he served are St. Patrick in O'Neill, St. Mary in Spencer, St. Michael in Coleridge, Holy Trinity in Hartington and St. Wenceslaus in Omaha.

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