New Allegation of Abuse Surfaces against Deceased Former Priest
May 1, 2017
A complaint of sexual abuse involving a minor and Larry Gregovich, a former Catholic priest who died earlier this year, has been made to the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, the diocese announced in a statement Monday.
The diocese, which covers the southern third of Missouri, also said in the statement that it notified civil authorities of the incident, which occurred more than 30 years ago, but did not say who was notified, or where. The allegation also was forwarded to the diocesan Safe Environment Review Board, which found it "credible" during a recent meeting.
Gregovich had been the target of earlier allegations that were made public by the diocese in 2002, but he was never charged with any criminal wrongdoing.
Leslie Eidson, spokesperson for the diocese, said more details were not being released because the alleged victim wants to remain anonymous.
Gregovich was ordained a priest in 1972 and served as associate pastor at St. Mary Parish in Joplin and later Immaculate Conception Parish in Springfield until he was named pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Verona in 1979. He later served as pastor of churches in New Madrid and Charleston and in 1985 was named pastor of St. Ann in Carthage. He was named pastor of St. Mary in Joplin in 1990, but was put on administrative leave in 1992 by then-Bishop John J. Leibrecht, and then immediately suspended from serving as a priest.
Gregovich died in Carthage on Feb. 2, 2017.
The diocese also said the latest allegation "pertains to a period in the late 1970s to early 1980s," but did not offer more details, except to say the victim and the victim's family brought the complaint forward.
In its statement, the diocese said it will "reach out to every person who has been the victim of sexual abuse as a minor by anyone acting in the name of the church," regardless of when the incident may have taken place.
Eidson said an offer of counseling was offered, but the alleged victim did not accept it, and has not sought any settlement from the diocese at this point.
Leibrecht, who has since retired, and the subsequent bishops have announced previously the names of other diocesan priests who had been forced either to retire or were suspended following sexual abuse allegations, including Gregovich, who had been accused of three incidents of sexual misconduct while he was pastor of Immaculate Conception in New Madrid from 1982 to 1985. The church began its investigation of him in 1992 after a family came forward, Leibrecht said at the time.
The others were Amel Shibley, who had mainly worked in Springfield or on the eastern side of the diocese; Leonard R. Chambers, who also had served as a priest in Joplin as well as many other parishes in the diocese; Louis Wyrsch, whose assignments included St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Joplin in 1968, and who died in 1997; and Eugene Deragowski, who also served at a number of churches in Southwest Missouri before he died in 1981. Many of the allegations against those priests stemmed from the 1970s and 1980s.