Here's What We Know about the Latest Abuse Allegation in the Evansville Diocese | Webb
By Jon Webb
Courier & Press
August 27, 2019
Yet another child molestation complaint surfaced in the Evansville Diocese last week.
According to a scant police report, an unnamed accuser told the church they were abused more than 45 years ago in the 1700 block of Lodge Avenue: an address associated with the Holy Spirit Catholic Church and elementary school.
The accuser was reportedly younger than 14 when the alleged abuse occurred.
The report didn’t name the accused and didn’t give the incident an exact timeline. The incident summary on the police report contained all of 25 words.
Since the accused is apparently dead and the accuser now lives outside the area, Evansville police will not pursue an investigation – nor will they name the alleged perpetrator.
As far as the diocese, spokesman Tim Lilley declined to comment last week and reiterated that stance Monday morning.
We aren’t even sure if the latest accused person was a priest or a person affiliated with the church in a different way.
So, what do we know about this latest allegation?
According to Evansville police, the reported incident took place at least as far back as the 1970s. And the accused died sometime in the '80s.
If you go by information the diocese has already released, that timeline doesn’t fit with any of the 12 Evansville clergyman already credibly accused of sexual misconduct against minors.
The diocese finally released a list of disgraced priests in February. Four on the list were deceased, but all of those died either in the 1990s or early 2000s.
Except for one. Othmar Schroeder, a longtime diocese priest who abused at least 18 children, died in 1988. But he has no obvious connection to Holy Spirit, spending the majority of his career in the Jasper area.
|David G. Fleck (Photo: Catholic Diocese of Evansville)|
Allegations are piling up
This is the third sexual abuse allegation within the Evansville diocese in the last 12 months.
In September 2018, the diocese placed the Rev. David Fleck on leave after he was accused of sexual misconduct. He’s remained on leave ever since, and Lilley said Monday morning that there are no updates on the case.
Fleck denies the allegation.
More: Sexual misconduct allegation still looms over Evansville diocese priest | Webb
Then came Feb. 13, when a former Evansville resident stood in front of the Indiana Senate Judiciary committee and said that the Rev. Raymond Kuper repeatedly abused him at Christ the King in the 1980s.
The man was advocating for the passage of Senate Bill 219, which would have given accusers more time to pursue civil cases in incidents that have exceeded the statute of limitations. The bill passed the Senate by a giant margin before withering in the House.
The diocese knew about the allegation against Kuper for months before it became public.
Kuper died in 2012. Just like with Fleck, Lilley said Monday that there are no updates on the allegation against Kuper.
Answers will be elusive
According to the U.S. Bishops Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, to which the diocese adheres, any allegation of abuse must be reported to “civil authorities” – whether that be Child Protective Services or local police.
The diocese did so in this case. Once that’s done, though, things get nebulous – especially if the accused is dead.
In those cases, the investigatory process largely unfolds inside the church. And, as you can see in the non-updates and no-comments above, those inquiries often remain fogged in mystery.
No matter what happens, I hope the accuser can eventually find some form of comfort.
According to the diocese, anyone else who suffered abuse from someone “ministering on behalf of the church” can report the incident to police or call the diocese victim assistance coordinator at 812-490-9565 or toll-free at 866-200-3004.