Peoria Diocese Expands List of Accused Priests

By Brett Herrmann
Journal Star
February 7, 2019

A former priest who once served in a leadership role at a Catholic retreat at St. Bede has been listed as “credibly accused” of sexual abuse by the Catholic Diocese of Peoria.

Kenneth J. Roberts, a priest with sexual abuse allegations made against him in multiple states, was listed with 285 other priests in Texas last week, and this week the Peoria Diocese added him to a list of “Incardinated priests in other dioceses/religious orders removed from ministry due to allegations of abuse of a minor.”

Roberts spent time in a leadership position during the Diocese of Peoria Emmaus Days Retreats in the 1980s, some of which took place at St. Bede. And it was there that one of his alleged abuses took place. Roberts was accused of sexually abusing a boy at one of the retreats in the early 1980s, according to a 2009 article from the Peoria Journal Star.

Roberts also had accusations made against him during his time in the St. Louis, Dallas and Belleville dioceses.

Roberts was ordained in 1966 and suspended from public ministry by the Diocese of Dallas in 1998. He died in 2018.

After he was removed from public ministry in 1998, Roberts allegedly refused to obey the bishop’s orders to stop associating with young people, according to a November 1998 article from the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Several civil suits were filed against Roberts, with some of them being settled outside of court for various sums.

Roberts was an author and multi-media evangelist known for his 1974 autobiography “Playboy to Priest.”

But Roberts isn’t the only priest with a local connection added to Peoria’s list this week.

Multiple priests were added to a list called “Incardinated priests of the Diocese of Peoria removed from ministry due to allegations of abuse of a minor before 2002.”

Two of these priests that were not included in the NewsTribune’s January report “How many more?” are Ron Roth and Bernard Tomaszewski.

Ron Roth was active in the Peoria Diocese from 1966-1968 and again in 1972-1991. When allegations surfaced in 1993, Peoria Bishop John Myers removed him from public ministry. The allegations alleged Roth abused three boys and a girl during his time in the Santa Fe archdiocese in New Mexico in the mid-1960s. At the time of the allegations in 1993, Roth was working in La Salle at Heart of Mercy Ministries, which he founded as Ron Roth Ministries in 1984, according to an article from USA Today.

Roth died in June 2009 in Peru and was later buried in St. Joseph Cemetery in Spring Valley, according to his obituary. He was a graduate of St. Bede Academy and LPO Junior College. He also served churches in Oglesby and Lostant, according to his obituary. The parish he founded in La Salle is now known as Celebrating Life Ministries.

Roth was listed on a Santa Fe Diocese list of accused priests in September 2017.

Little information is available on Bernard Tomaszewski; who also was listed. In a “Brief History of St. Hyacinth Parish,” he is named as a priest who started working at the parish in 1924.








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