Columbus Priest Placed on Leave after Allegations of Sexual Abuse Involving Minor

July 17, 2013

[with video]

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Catholic Diocese of Columbus said on Wednesday that it placed at 69-year-old priest on administrative leave on Wednesday pending an investigation into alleged sexual abuse. 

According to the diocese, Father Ronald J. Atwood is accused sexually abusing a minor.

"I"ve never felt uncomfortable around him before so it is kinda surprising," said parishioner Kristi Beiter.

The diocese stated that the alleged abuse occurred during Atwood's tenure at Bishop Ready High School and St. Stephen the Martyr and St. Peter parishes in Columbus between 1976 and 1979. 

The allegations were reported to the diocese on July 15 this year. The diocese contacted Franklin County Children Services.  The diocese says the next day, Atwood was placed on administrative leave.  

On Wednesday, mass at St Francis of Assisi was cancelled.

Parishioners told 10TV's Jason Frazer they would be praying for the alleged victim and Atwood.

They warned everyone not to rush in judging Atwood.

"You have to wait and see how it all plays out," said parishioner Joe Palazzo.

No charges have been filed against Atwood at this point.

His assignments have included: Assistant Pastor, St. Aloysius Church, Columbus (1969-1972); Teacher, Bishop Ready High School, Columbus (1969-1977); Associate Pastor, St. Stephen the Martyr Church, Columbus (1977-1978); Associate Pastor, St. Peter Church, Columbus (1978- 1982); Pastor, Church of the Ascension, Johnstown (1982-1991); Pastor, St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Columbus (1991-2003); Associate Pastor; St. Joseph Cathedral, Columbus (2003-2004); and Pastor, St. Francis of Assisi Church, Columbus (2004-2013).

Anyone who may have experienced sexual abuse by clergy or others associated with the church is asked to contact the Diocesan Victim's Assistance Coordinator at 614-224-2251 or 866-448-0217, as well as civil authorities such as the Columbus Division of Police at 614-645-4545.


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