Longtime Columbus priest Kevin Lutz accused of sexual abuse
By Danae King
September 13, 2019
The Rev. Kevin Lutz, a priest in Columbus and central Ohio for four decades who recently retired from St. Mary parish in German Village, has been placed on administrative leave following an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.
Lutz, 69, was placed on leave Wednesday by Bishop Robert Brennan of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus as part of a diocesan investigation into the allegation, according to a release from the diocese.
Lutz, who did not respond to a request for comment Friday, on Sunday announced his retirement from St. Mary, where he recently supervised a years-long renovation of the historic building. A day later, the accusation that Lutz had sexually abused a minor in the 1980s during his time at St. Christopher Parish on the Northwest Side was reported to the diocese, according to the release.
The abuse is alleged to have occurred from 1982 to 1986. The diocese said it reported the allegation to Columbus police on Monday, the same day it found out about it, and also told Lutz.
A Columbus police report, dated Friday, states that the victim was a 14-year-old male and that the incident occurred in 1984. No specific date or location was given.
Lutz reviewed the allegation and was formally placed on leave Wednesday, according to the release. Even retired priests are placed on administrative leave in light of an allegation, as they may still minister to people and live on church grounds in retirement.
If a priest is on leave, he cannot minister publicly, wear a cleric’s attire, identify himself as a clergy member or live on diocesan property, such as at a parish.
Placing Lutz on leave is “not an indication that the diocese had determined that the allegation is credible,” according to the release. Instead, it indicates that a preliminary investigation into the allegation has begun, the diocese said.
The Diocesan Board of Review for the Protection of Children will meet soon to look at the results of the preliminary investigation and tell Brennan whether the allegation is credible or not. Just because an allegation is deemed credible, that does not mean it is considered proof of guilt, the diocese said.
The diocese is working on outreach to parishioners to describe the process, the release said.
In a church bulletin for Sept. 7-8, Lutz wrote a letter to parishioners at St. Mary German Village about his retirement.
His first words to them were “I’m tired.” He related that he told Brennan, who suggested he retire early.
“Although the timing is his, the desire is mine,” Lutz wrote.
He further wrote that the project to renovate the church was “very consuming” but he was pleased with the results. He said he planned in retirement to work on writing three books he’s started and to perform more priestly work. He also reflected on his time as a priest.
Lutz had been a priest in the Diocese of Columbus since 1978. He served at many parishes, including St. Matthew Parish in Gahanna, St. Agatha Parish in Upper Arlington, Bishop Hartley High School on the East Side, Bishop Watterson High School on the North Side, St. Mary Parish in Marion, St. Christopher Parish on the Northwest Side, St. Mary Parish in Lancaster, Sacred Heart Parish in New Philadelphia, St. Pius X Parish in Reynoldsburg, Christ the King Parish on the East Side, St. Joseph Parish in Plain City, Sacred Heart Mission in Milford, Holy Family Parish in Franklinton, and Corpus Christi and St. Ladislas on the South Side.
On Monday, the diocese added the names of eight priests who have been “credibly accused” of sexually abusing minors to a list of 34 it released on March 1. Including two other updates, the total is now 48.
The diocese also recently announced that it is creating a task force to review practices related to sexual abuse. Those include its safe environment practices, or the program that trains adults and employees to recognize signs of abuse, and its outreach to survivors and others affected by sexual abuse by clergy members in the diocese.