Group calls on Cincinnati archdiocese to take action in wake in priest’s rape indictment
By Michael D. Clark
August 22, 2019
An indicted priest, who worked in churches in the Miami Valley and Greater Cincinnati, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to nine charges of raping an altar boy and was called a flight risk by a judge.
Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Leslie Ghiz ordered a $5 million bond for Rev. Geoff Drew.
“I am concerned about the flight - as is the state - simply based on the fact of the high-profile nature of this case and the particular allegations,” Ghiz said.
Drew previously served as pastor of St. Rita of Cascia Parish in Dayton and as parochial vicar at St. Luke the Evangelist Church in Beavercreek.
And for nine years he was pastor of one of the Cincinnati Archdiocese’s largest churches – St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church in Butler County’s Liberty Township.
But the head of the Cincinnati chapter of a national organization representing victims of abusive priests, said more needs to be done by the Cincinnati Archdiocese officials who employed Drew.
Dan Frondorf, head of the Cincinnati chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) released a statement after Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced a grand jury’s nine-count rape indictment Monday.
Frondorf criticized officials at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, which includes most Catholic churches and schools in the Greater Cincinnati and Greater Dayton areas, for not acting faster on allegations against Drew.
“We know that the Archdiocese of Cincinnati had been warned about Father Drew for at least six years without taking action to keep him away from children, so we hope there are not others who are suffering in silence,” Frondorf said.
“We call on Archbishop Dennis Schnurr to personally visit every parish where Father Drew worked or attended and beg others who have information to come forward to police and prosecutors now,” he said.
Deters said he believes there could be other victims.
Archdiocese officials did not respond Wednesday to requests to comment.
Drew’s attorney entered the not guilty plea before the judge as Drew stood handcuffed in court. He did not speak.
Drew remains in custody at the Hamilton County Justice Center.
Deters said the alleged rapes of an altar boy occurred between 1988 and 1991, when Drew was employed as a music minister at St. Jude School in Green Township in western Hamilton County.
Drew was not a priest at the time. He was ordained in 2004.
He most recently served as pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Hamilton County. Archdiocese officials placed Drew on leave from St. Ignatius on July 23 after he had been accused of sending inappropriate text messages to at least one boy.
A 41-year-old man testified before a grand jury last week after the meetings at St. Ignatius of Loyola were publicized, Deters said.
The man said he was 10 and 11 years old and was an altar boy at St. Jude School from 1988 to 1991 when the nine alleged incidents occurred.
Frondorf said his group hoped the charges against Drew “encourage others who have seen, suspected or suffered” his alleged abuse to come forward and make a report with police or prosecutors.
Drew’s next court hearing was scheduled for Sept. 11. He faces life in prison if convicted.
(Journal-News media partner WCPO-TV contributed to this story)