Cleveland Diocese Priests on Leave Pending Review

By Katie Byard, Carol Biliczky and Andrea Misko
Akron Beacon Journal [Ohio]
April 9, 2002

These Catholic priests have been placed on administrative leave by the Diocese of Cleveland, pending further review of their cases:

• Russell Banner — Suspended from Annunciation Parish, Cleveland. Worked at Holy Family in Stow (1975-1979) and St. Martha in Akron (1974-75). Also assigned to the following Cleveland area parishes: Ascension in Cleveland (1987-89), St. Clare in Lyndhurst (1984-86), St. Patrick in Cleveland (1982-84), St. Catherine in Cleveland (1979-82) and St. Joan of Arc in Chagrin Falls (1967-70). He also worked as chaplain at Parmadale Orphanage (1970-74).

• Raymond Bartnikowski — Suspended from St. Victor in Richfield, where he was assigned in 2000 because of an allegation of child abuse in 1967. Worked at the following Cleveland area parishes: St. Wenceslas in Maple Heights (1988-2000), Sacred Heart of Jesus in Cleveland (1975-88), St. Mary in Elyria (1974-75), St. Monica in Garfield Heights (1969-74), the now-closed St. Mary of Czestochowa in Cleveland (1963-69).

• Gary Berthiaume — Living at retreat house in Warrenville, Ill. Assigned to diocese in Joliet, Ill., in 1988. Worked at St. Adalbert in Berea (1983-87) and Ascension Church in Cleveland (1978-83). Convicted in Michigan of a charge relating to contact with a minor in the 1970s.

• Donald Brickman — Suspended from duties as a canon lawyer for a diocese tribunal on marriage. He served as associate pastor at St. Joseph in Cuyahoga Falls (1981-86). Also worked at St. Bartholomew in Middleburg Heights (1986-89). Began serving on the diocese tribunal in 1989.

• Joseph Brodnick — Most recently worked as a chaplain at St. Joseph's Hospital in Elmira, N.Y. Performed Mass for nuns living in the Our Lady of the Elms Convent in West Akron in the early 1990s. Sister Elizabeth Ann Schaefer of the convent said Brodnick was not connected to the Elms schools and had no contact with children. Chaplain at St. Thomas Hospital of Akron (1990-93). Worked at St. Ann in Cleveland Heights in 1985. Lived at St. Martha in Akron in the early 1980s. Served on the diocese tribunal on marriage in the 1980s.

• Joseph Labbe — Suspended as pastor at Holy Angels in Bainbridge Township. Worked as administrator at Holy Angels mission, which preceded the church there (1991-95). Director of admissions at Borromeo Seminary College in Wickliffe (1981-91). Worked at St. Joseph in Avon Lake in 1970s.

• Joseph Lang — Most recently worked as a pastor at a church in British Columbia. Became an associate judge for a diocese tribunal in 1983. Worked at the following Cleveland area parishes: St. Philomena in East Cleveland (1971-75) and St. Thomas More in Brooklyn (1969-71).

• Joseph Lieberth — Suspended as pastor at Holy Family Catholic Church in Stow.

• Anthony Rebol — Retired in 1998. Worked at the following Cleveland parishes: St. Lawrence (1979-98), St. Mary (1970-79), St. Procop (1965-68), St. Mary (1958-65) and Holy Rosary (1956-58). Was chaplain at St. Anthony Home in Cleveland (1968-70).

• Joseph Romansky — Suspended as chaplain at St. Augustine Manor in Cleveland, where be began working in 1993. Assigned to Holy Family Chapel in Cleveland (1982-86). Worked for Commission for Catholic Community Action (1980-82). Worked at St. Catherine in Cleveland from 1975 to the late 1970s. In the mid-1980s, he was suspended from priestly activity, according to the Cleveland diocese. News reports say he was placed in parish work in Biloxi, Miss., after pleading guilty to child-molesting charges in 1985. In the early 1990s, the Cleveland diocese learned that Romansky was no longer welcome in Mississippi.

Priests the diocese said are no longer active because of allegations in the past involving abuse of minors: • George F. Bailey — No information available.

• Allen Bruening — The mother of two sons alleged that Bruening engaged in strip poker and similar incidents with her sons while he was assigned to Ascension Church in Cleveland in the 1980s. He underwent psychiatric treatment and was relocated to an undisclosed residential facility for priests outside the Cleveland diocese. He also was involved in a suit filed in the 8th District Court of Appeals in Cleveland. James Barberic sued the Diocese of Cleveland, Bruening and another priest in 1999, alleging that the priests had sexually molested him during his childhood.

• Thomas Burg — No information available.

• Neil Conway — Now 65, Conway has admitted molesting eight boys during his 22 years with the church. He said he stopped in 1985 when a nun found a boy in his bed at St. John the Baptist Church in Akron. He underwent counseling and left the church because a medical and psychological report indicated he could no longer perform his duties as a priest. He lives on a farm in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The Summit County Sheriff's Department is investigating a more recent allegation of abuse.

• Louis Ferrante — No information available.

• Martin Louis — Sentenced to five to 25 years in prison on a guilty plea to rape 12 years ago. The Rev. Gordon Yahner from St. Hilary Parish in Fairlawn confirmed Louis once served at the church but was unsure of the years.

• Thomas Luckay — No information available.

• William McCool — No information available.

• James Mulica — No information available.

• Edward Rupp — No information available.

• Ronald Tomicky — No information available.

• Dennis Wirks — No information available.


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