Allegations against Priest Cause Emotional Week in Liberty Twp.
By Denise G. Callahan & Michael D. Clark
August 11, 2019
Alleged inappropriate touching, texting and sexual comments by a former Butler County pastor prompted action by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati that will impact more than 450,000 parishioners.
Late last month, the archdiocese confirmed the Rev. Geoff Drew, former pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church in Liberty Twp., was suspended for actions involving teenage boys. Drew previously served as pastor of St. Rita of Cascia Parish in Dayton and parochial vicar at St. Luke the Evangelist Church in Beavercreek.
There was a week full of activity in the case that caused strong reaction from the local Catholic community. Beginning with a Monday news conference trhat communicated accusations against Drew, officials took actions that included meeting with members of the Liberty Twp. church where he served from 2009-18.
Church officials also said they would change how they handle investigation accusations of inappropriate behavior against priests because of the Drew case, which caused criticism of church officials.
Communications Director Mike Schafer outlined allegations against Drew that led Archbishop Dennis Schnurr to place him on administrative leave July 23 and order him into “comprehensive physical, psychological and spiritual evaluation at an independent in-patient treatment facility.
“In 2013 and again in 2015, the central office of the archdiocese received concerns from St. Maximilian Kolbe parishioners regarding Father Drew’s behavior. The alleged behavior involved a pattern of such things as uninvited bear hugs, shoulder massages, patting of the leg above the knee, and inappropriate sexual comments about one’s body or appearance, directed at teenage boys,” Schafer said. “This behavior naturally made these boys uncomfortable.”In addition, there was a report of Father Drew texting some of the boys “teasing them about girlfriends’.”
Drew is one of two priests on administrative leave in the archdiocese, which covers 19 counties in southwest Ohio. The Rev. Clarence Heis, who previously served at Holy Trinity Parish in Coldwater, St. Michael Parish in Mechanicsburg and Immaculate Conception in North Lewisburg, is also on administrative leave.