The Roman Catholic Diocese of Toledo announced Saturday that allegations the Rev. Nelson Beaver sexually abused minors roughly 25 years ago were deemed valid by the Diocesan Review Board, which voted unanimously that he is “not suitable for priestly ministry.”
Bishop Daniel Thomas has accepted the review board's recommendation and is recommending laicization, also known as defrocking. The case will be presented to the Holy See Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in Rome, for their review and final determination, according to a diocese news release.
Father Beaver was pastor of Resurrection Parish in Lexington and St. Mary of the Snows Parish in Mansfield at the time he was placed on leave last year. Church officials have said he denies any wrongdoing.
He retired earlier this year, but is still on administrative leave, meaning he, “cannot exercise public priestly ministry, administer any of the Sacraments, wear clerical attire or present himself as a priest,” according to the diocese.
Father Beaver is accused of sexually abusing a minor more than 25 years ago when he was at Sacred Heart Parish in Montpelier, where he was pastor from 1984 to 1994. The diocese said three other allegations were made against Father Beaver from a similar time period in Lucas and in Huron counties.
Authorities in Williams and Huron counties closed their sexual abuse allegations this year. Lucas County authorities did not investigate the allegation, which would have fallen beyond the statute of limitations, at the request of the accuser.
With prosecutors’ investigations complete, the diocese said it started its investigation this summer, during which a fourth allegation — also said to have occurred in Williams County during the same time period as the others — was brought fourth, which was also found credible.
Claudia Vercellotti, a leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, sharply criticized the diocese and Bishop Thomas on Saturday for, again, waiting until a weekend night to release information about the investigation.
She thanked the victims who did come forward, adding the diocese should now be doing more to warn parents, parishioners and anyone else who might have been in contact with Father Beaver.
“It’s highly unlikely that only four allegations exist. That’s just not the way these things happen — people who are accused of preying on children, they don't stop. They are stopped,” she said. “The diocese knows how to get information out to and reach people when they want to fund-raise. They know you don’t do it by quietly releasing a press release on a Saturday afternoon. This is such dirty pool, and it’s at the expense of kids.”
Kelly Donaghy, spokesman for the Diocese of Toledo, said Sunday the diocese wanted parishioners and other church families to hear the news from the bishop first, adding Bishop Thomas announced the decision this weekend at the two parishes where Father Beaver most recently served as pastor. Similar announcements were also made this weekend by pastors in parishes where the allegations originated.
“Because it’s really critical to us for people to hear this first from the bishop or from their priest,” she said. “We are not hiding from this in any way, shape, or form. We were simply telling people who were most affected first”
She encouraged anyone who was sexually abused by a person affiliated with the diocese to first report it to law enforcement and, if they choose to, to the diocese.
“We very strongly want victim to know that there is a path available so they can report these incidents. And we hope that they do,” she said.
Father Beaver was associate pastor at St. Paul the Apostle in Norwalk, Ohio, from 1976 to 1979; Most Blessed Sacrament, Toledo, from 1979 to 1981; and St. John the Baptist, Toledo, from 1981 to 1984, as well as pastor at Sacred Heart, Montpelier, and St. Joseph, Blakeslee, Ohio, from 1984 to 1994; St. Mary, Norwalk, and St. Alphonsus Liguori, Monroeville/Peru Township, Ohio, from 1994 to 2004; St. Hyacinth, Toledo, from 2004 to 2005; Resurrection, Lexington, from 2005 to the present, and St. Mary, Mansfield, from 2010 to the present.
He was ordained on June 5, 1976, according to diocesan directories.