Columbus Priest Accused of Sex Abuse
By JoAnne Viviano
October 7, 2013
A retired Roman Catholic priest and teacher has been accused of sexually abusing a minor sometime between 1971 and 1980, when he served as pastor at St. Agnes Church on the Hilltop.
The Diocese of Columbus said the allegation against the Rev. Raymond Lavelle, 83, was reported to its chancery office on Sept. 3.
A diocesan review board met on Sept. 16 and “concluded that the allegation was credible and warranted further investigation,” according to a statement dated Thursday. It says officials will conduct a further inquiry into the matter.
Lavelle worked in more than a dozen locations, including high schools and a seminary, in the 43 years before he retired in 2000. The diocese says it will reach out to people at those sites to determine if “persons wish come forward and seek help.”
Victim advocate Carol Zamonski encouraged any other possible victims to come forward.
“It’s almost certain that this is not the only victim. It may be the only one we’ve heard of, but it’s really rare for someone to have only one victim,” said Zamonski, of the central Ohio chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “There’s healing in telling your story, and we want to be there for people so that they can see there’s the hope of healing in their life.”
The diocese says the allegations have been forwarded to Franklin County Children Services, where a spokeswoman said they will be documented.
Lavelle has been in extended nursing care for the past year, the diocese said.
The diocese said he worked at the following locations:
St. Agnes Church, assistant pastor, 1957-1961; pastor, 1971-1980.
Holy Family High School, Franklinton, teacher, 1958-1961.
St. Dominic Church, Near East Side, assistant pastor, 1961-1963.
Bishop Hartley High School, East Side, teacher, 1961-1963; counselor, 1969-1970.
St. Mary Church, Lancaster, assistant pastor, 1963-1968.
St. Timothy Church, Northwest Side, priest in residence, 1969.
St. Phillip the Apostle Church, East Side, priest in residence, 1969-1970.
Pontifical College Josephinum, Far North Side, spiritual director, 1969-1970.
St. Matthias Church, North Side, pastor, 1980-91.
St. Brendan Church, Hilliard, associate pastor, 1992.
St. Vincent de Paul Church, Mount Vernon, pastor, 1992-1996.
St. Joan of Arc Church, Powell, associate pastor, 1996-2000.
St. Catharine Church, East Side, sacramental and pastoral administrator, 2000.
According to a May 2, 2010, report in the diocesan publication the Catholic Times, Lavelle was serving at that time as a priest in residence at St. Paul Church and as a chaplain at Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital, both in Westerville. The report says he also assisted at St. Anthony Parish in the Northland neighborhood and had worked at Bishop Fenwick High School in Lancaster.
Reach the Diocese of Columbus victim’s assistance coordinator at 614-224-2251, 866-448-0217 or firstname.lastname@example.org