Diocese of Toledo Announces Decision Regarding Reverend Samuel Punnoor

Roman Catholic Diocese of Toledo
July 18, 2015

The Diocese of Toledo is announcing today a decision regarding Reverend Samuel Punnoor, who was placed on administrative leave as a result of a May 2015 allegation from a minor that he violated the diocesan code of pastoral conduct.

Following its investigation of the allegation, Lucas County Children Services informed the Diocese that Father Punnoor’s actions were not deemed to be sexual abuse but his behavior with this child raised concerns.

After the necessary ecclesiastical investigation, the Diocesan Review Board unanimously concluded that a violation of the diocesan code of pastoral conduct had occurred. Bishop Daniel Thomas has accepted the Board’s recommendations that Father Punnoor should remain on administrative leave, have no priestly ministry in the Diocese of Toledo, have no access to children and return to his home diocese in India.


On May 22, 2015, the Diocese of Toledo announced that Reverend Samuel Punnoor, a priest of the Diocese of Pathanamthitta (India) who up until that time was serving in the Diocese of Toledo, was that day placed on administrative leave following an allegation that he violated “Appendix A: Diocese of Toledo Code of Pastoral Conduct” of the diocesan To Protect and to Heal: Policy on Sexual Abuse of Minors.

The announcement stated that the Diocese reported the allegation the day it was received to the appropriate civil authorities and placed Father Punnoor on administrative leave pending the results of the civil investigation to be followed by the ecclesiastical investigation.


Upon the conclusion of the civil investigation, the Diocese of Toledo received correspondence from Lucas County Children Services that the agency’s assessment determined that Reverend Samuel Punnoor’s actions did not meet the definition of sexual abuse as defined by state law. The agency also indicated that it has concerns about Father Punnoor’s interactions with the victim and that he appears to have boundary issues in not recognizing appropriate interaction with this child.

The Diocese of Toledo undertook its own investigation, presenting all findings as required to the Diocesan Review Board. After serious deliberation and consideration of the results of this phase of the ecclesiastical investigation, the Diocesan Review Board concluded its process and presented its report to Bishop Daniel Thomas. The Board unanimously concluded that Father Punnoor violated the following standards in “Appendix A: Diocese of Toledo Code of Pastoral Conduct:”

3.2 – Physical contact with youth can be misconstrued and should occur (a) only when completely non-sexual and otherwise appropriate and (b) never in private.

5.2 – Harassment encompasses a broad range of physical, written or verbal behavior, including without limitation the following: unwelcome sexual advances or touching.

Based on its review of the findings from the ecclesiastical investigation, the Diocesan Review Board unanimously recommended to Bishop Thomas that Father Punnoor’s behavior warrants that he not continue in ministry in the Diocese of Toledo. In addition, the Board recommended that Father Punnoor remain on administrative leave, have no faculties for ministry in the Diocese of Toledo, be monitored and restricted from any access to children and return to his home diocese in India.

Bishop Thomas accepted the recommendations from the Diocesan Review Board and has fully informed the Bishop of Pathanamthitta, Father Punnoor’s Bishop, of the outcome of the investigations. And, as required, Bishop Thomas will forward all findings of the investigations to the Holy See for a final determination.

The Diocese of Toledo has communicated all findings and decisions regarding this case to Lucas County Children Services and the Lucas County Prosecutor’s Office.

Pastoral Care

Out of pastoral care for the faithful, an announcement regarding this decision is being made at Masses this weekend at the parishes where Reverend Samuel Punnoor served as Parochial Vicar: Most Blessed Sacrament, Toledo, and Saint Joseph Parish, Maumee. A notice regarding this decision is also being sent to parents/guardians of the students of Most Blessed Sacrament and Saint Joseph schools, as well as Central Catholic High School, Toledo, where Father Punnoor formerly served as a faculty member.

The Diocese of Toledo remains vigilant in ensuring the protection of children and providing a safe environment for all young people, as well as ensuring the dignity and integrity of the priesthood.

The Diocese of Toledo asks for your continued prayers for all those involved. If you have any concerns or information to report, contact Lucas County Children Services at 419-213-2273 and/or Mr. Frank DiLallo, diocesan Director of Child & Youth Protection and Victim Assistance, at 419-243-2150.


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