Lawsuit Says Archdiocese Covered up Sex Abuse by Priest

Associated Press State & Local Wire
November 5, 2003

CINCINNATI — A lawsuit filed against Roman Catholic Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk and his Archdiocese of Cincinnati says they knew about a priest's sexual abuse of two boys and haven't disclosed it for 40 years.

The lawsuit alleges that the Rev. Albert Schetter sexually abused Bruce Gehring and an unidentified co-plaintiff while Schetter was assigned by the archdiocese between 1960 and 1963 to the Annunciation School and Parish in Cincinnati. Schetter retired as a priest in 1990 and died in May 2002 at 79.

Attorneys for Gehring and the other man sued on Tuesday in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, demanding unspecified money damages. The archdiocese had not seen the lawsuit Wednesday, said its lawyer, Mark VanderLaan.

The lawsuit said the archdiocese and Pilarczyk knew of Schetter's alleged abuse of children, covered it up, took no measures to protect children from Schetter and intimidated and threatened the victims. Pilarczyk became Cincinnati archbishop in 1982, overseeing a 19-county archdiocese that serves about 500,000 Catholics.

Archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco said Tuesday that there was no intimidation or threatening of victims.

He said Gehring contacted the archdiocese in 1992 to express support for a policy it was then writing on protecting children from abuse. He met with an archdiocese official and said he had been abused by Schetter about 30 years before, Andriacco said. The archdiocese offered then to provide Gehring with counseling but he declined, Andriacco said.

As a result of Gehring's report that Schetter had molested him, Schetter - who had retired by then - was ordered not to be with children unless another adult was present, Andriacco said. Schetter was no longer in ministry at that time, he said.

After the abuse allegation became known, archdiocese officials searched Schetter's records and found that he had been accused of "odd behavior" with children in the early 1960s, although the records did not make clear that it was sexual misconduct, Andriacco said. The records showed that Schetter had been sent on a spiritual retreat in the early 1960s as an effort to deal with the misbehavior, Andriacco said.

Gehring and his co-plaintiff both live in the Cincinnati area, their lawyers said.

Other lawsuits alleging similar sexual abuse of boys decades ago have been filed against two other Cincinnati archdiocese priests and accuse the archdiocese and Pilarczyk of knowing about the abuse and covering it up. Pilarczyk and the archdiocese have denied any cover-up.


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