Retired Catholic Priest Charged in Missouri with Sex Abuse
By Heather Hollingsworth
February 19, 2020
A retired Catholic priest has been charged in Missouri with multiple counts of child sexual abuse stemming from a statewide investigation of abuse by Catholic priests.
Seventy-six-year-old Frederick Lutz, of Springfield, was charged Tuesday with forcible sodomy, sexual abuse and two counts of statutory sodomy. His bond was set at $125,000 cash only. No attorney is listed for him in online court records.
He was among 12 former priests that Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt referred for criminal prosecution following a 13-month investigation.
According to charging documents, Lutz sexually assaulted a 17-year-old in 2000, while he was the priest at the St. Joseph Parish in the 1,350-person southeast Missouri town of Advance. The documents said Lutz called the teen to the rectory, where he was drinking and watching a pornographic movie. The document said the teen was forced to perform sexual acts before he could leave.
According to court documents, the teen immediately told his father who then spoke to a teacher. Documents said the teacher told Lutz about the conversation, and a few weeks later he called the father into his office and apologized. Lutz allegedly said that he had had recently broken up with a boyfriend who had been living with him at the rectory.
Police also learned of a 1972 incident in which a 17-year-old who was working a summer job at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Cape Girardeau said he awoke after a night of drinking with Lutz touching him, according to charging documents. The man made a formal complaint with the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese in 2006.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield–Cape Girardeau said in a statement that it was participating in the investigation and stressed that it previously had reported the allegations against Lutz to the then-prosecutor in Stoddard County.
The diocese, along with current Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Oliver, urged anyone with additional information about other victims to come forward.
Schmitt said in a statement that he was pleased to see that a case had been initiated.
“While this may not provide much solace to victims, these charges represent the next crucial steps in holding abusers accountable for their actions,” the statement said.
Missouri is among several states that launched investigations last year after a Pennsylvania report cited abuse of more than 1,000 children by hundreds of priests there since the 1940s, and efforts by church leaders to hide it.