Prince of Peace Priest in Child Sex Investigation Asks to Resign
By Nicole Hensley
May 8, 2019
|Father John Keller gives Holy Communion to parishioner pastor of St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church in this 1987 photo. He has been identified by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston as one of two priests now under investigation for child sex abuse allegations.|
A prominent Catholic priest, who was suspended amid an investigation into at least two allegations of child sex abuse, has asked to step down, a parish memo on Wednesday said.
John Keller, longtime pastor of Prince of Peace Catholic Community, “requested retirement, for age and medical reasons,” according to an email to parishioners. “His health concerns and the current process of the review board, which is ongoing and without update, have made him absent from our parish.”
Keller, 70, already was suspended from his priestly duties on Jan. 31, hours before the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston made public that he was under investigation for alleged child sexual abuse. He was allowed to perform Mass at the Tomball Parkway church that morning.
"The Archdiocese is reviewing the matter and has no comment at this time," a spokeswoman said in response to Keller's resignation request.
The archdiocese said in February that it had forwarded at least two complaints about Keller to the Houston Police Department’s Special Victims Division. Police officials then said investigators opened a case into a priest but would not identify him.
Authorities could not be reached to say whether the investigation remains open.
The allegations against Keller date back 25 to 40 years. The first known allegation was reported in 2001 by a woman who accused Keller of engaging in an inappropriate relationship with her ninth-grade son. At the time, the archdiocese said the claim by the then-adult son could not be verified. Another man said he came forward to church leaders in December with a claim of sexual abuse against the pastor, according to a CBS News report.
In the months leading up to Keller’s removal, the priest was increasingly absent because of medical issues. He did not attend a confirmation ceremony last November because of his health, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said at the time.
Auxillary Bishop George Sheltz has been filling in as the parish administrator since Keller’s removal from ministry in January. The memo said Sheltz would remain in that position as the pastor’s retirement request is processed.
Nearly 300 Roman Catholic priests across Texas have been identified as "credibly accused" of sexually abusing children over the last 80 years. Keller and former Conroe priest Manuel La Rosa-Lopez, who last week was indicted on two counts of indecency with a child, were listed as being under investigation.