Priest's Colleague Surprised by Allegations of Abuse

By Steve Arney
The Pantagraph [Bloomington Illinois]
April 30, 2004

Bloomington -- When Monsignor Steven Rohlfs was contacted a week ago about sexual abuse claims involving a respected colleague, the information floored him, said Rohlfs, a top aide to Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky.

A 36-year-old man claimed Monsignor Thomas Miller sexually abused him in 1979, Miller's first year in his first assignment as a priest, at Holy Trinity Catholic Church.

Up to then, said Rohlfs, the church leadership hadn't heard "even the slightest indication" of abuse by Miller in Miller's 25-year career.

"He was one of the most respected priests in the diocese," Rolfs said.

But reputation didn't matter when it came to response, Rohlfs added.

In the Dallas Charter of 2002, guidelines were established by U.S. bishops reacting to the church sexual-abuse scandal. Rohlfs said those guidelines are being followed exactly in this case.

He said he was making telephone calls within minutes. The investigation had begun.

Miller was placed on administrative leave, pending outcome of a full investigation, and the allegations were made public Thursday.

It is the first case of a Catholic priest being publicly accused of child sexual abuse while he was assigned to a McLean County church.


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