Here are two names that didn't make Evansville's abusive priests list
By Jon Webb
Evansville Courier & Press
March 2, 2019
The rules were specific.
Last week, when the Evansville Diocese released the names of clergy who had been “credibly accused” of sexual misconduct against minors, it made it clear that each name had to meet narrow criteria.
The accusations must be deemed “credible”: a term defined by the Diocesan Review Board and Bishop Joseph Siegel. Either that or the accused had to admit to the crime.
The abuses had to be committed against minors or someone who “habitually has only the imperfect use of reason,” (i.e. the mentally handicapped).
The report didn’t state this outright, but apparently the accused had to be directly – not just closely – tied the diocese.
But any Google search of abusive priests in Evansville will turn up names that didn’t make the Feb. 22 release.
In 2003, the diocese itself said 15 priests had been accused of misconduct. Sixteen years later, that number had somehow winnowed to 12.
The list didn’t include two priests – David Fleck and the late Raymond Kuper – whose cases are still winding through the diocese. It also omitted multiple priests who were cleared only through diocesan review – not by law enforcement.
That includes a now-dead clergyman who, when he was still living, had two women level accusations against him in 2002. In the first case, a board selected by then-Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger believed the abuse did happen, but that it was committed by a different priest. That shadowy person’s identity was never revealed.
As for the second allegation, the board refused to consider it. The accuser was 18 at the time of the reported abuse. They only investigated claims involving minors, they said at the time.
Some cases weren’t as ambiguous. Here are two examples.
Thomas Aquinas Schaefers
Thomas Schaefers served as a priest in Evansville for several years. And in 2010, an accuser contacted the diocese and said Schaefers had abused them decades before.
So why wasn’t he on the list? His reported transgressions took place a few years before our diocese was officially founded.
According to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, which included Schaefers on its own list, Schaefers abused an unknown victim sometime in the early 1940s, when he was pastor at St. Benedict.
That horrible action was one of the last things he ever did. On May 22, 1942, a heart attack killed Schaefers while he was preparing for another man’s funeral. He was 53.
Mark Ciganovich was snagged in a federal child pornography sting in 1996. He pleaded guilty to receiving an illicit videotape through the mail and ultimately served a year in prison.
It was the same porn crackdown that nabbed Jean Vogler, a priest who continued to work in the Evansville diocese until Feb. 19, when Siegel suddenly removed him from active ministry only three days before the list’s release.
Advocacy group Bishop Accountability lists Ciganovich as being a former member of the Evansville Diocese. But apparently, that’s not technically correct. Ciganovich was a priest with the Order of the Carmelites – a Roman Catholic sect with its own governing board.
Still, he played a significant, if indirect, role in our area. For almost 20 years, he taught at Saint Meinrad, where he counted numerous local priests as his students.
His subject? Moral theology.
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