Investigation Clears Priest in Spokane, Says Bishop

By John K. Wiley
Associated Press
February 23, 2003

Spokane - A Roman Catholic priest has been reinstated to the ministry after investigators concluded an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor was unfounded.

The Rev. Daniel Wetzler was reinstated after the investigation sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Spokane determined he did not molest a youth many years ago, Bishop William Skylstad said Friday.

Wetzler, who retired in July 2002, was removed from priestly ministry in November pending the investigation.

Wetzler, 65, denied the accusation and cooperated with the investigation by a former police detective, Skylstad said.

Wetzler voluntarily took and passed a polygraph test administered by a former State Patrol polygraph expert, the bishop said.

Results of the investigation were given to Skylstad, who decided the allegation against Wetzler was unfounded.

An independent board established to review allegations of sexual abuse by priests concurred with the bishop's decision.

"I have come to a deeper awareness of the power of prayer ... and am ever so grateful to all who have supported me in this most devastating time of my priestly life," Wetzler said in a statement released by the diocese.

"I know I join Father Wetzler's many friends in welcoming his return to the priestly ministry," Skylstad said.

The bishop said suspending Wetzler was a difficult decision but necessary "to assure parents that we are doing everything possible to protect their children."

The alleged victim requested anonymity. The diocese agreed to protect the person's identity.


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