One of Removed Priests Spent 4 Years in PC

By Shawn Gainer
News-Messenger (Fremont, OH)
July 9, 2002

A priest removed because of allegations of sexual misconduct once served as assistant pastor at Immaculate Conception Church in Port Clinton, but was elsewhere when the incidents that led to his removal took place.

Lawrence C. Scharf, 63, last served as priest at St. Joseph Church in Monroeville from July 1, 1993 to March 27 of this year.

He was an assistant pastor at Immaculate Conception in Port Clinton from September 1968 to November 1972.

The diocese announced Sunday that Scharf and three other priests within the diocese were removed because of allegations of sexual misconduct.

The others are Rev. Robert J. Fisher, 49, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel in Toledo; Rev. John C. Shiffler, 50, administrator at Our Lady of Fatima in Lyons and Our Lady of Mercy, Fayette, and Rev. Robert R. Thomas, 71, now retired, who served as pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Toledo from June 1982 to December 1984.

Shiffler served as an associate pastor at Tiffin St. Joseph and as an instructor at Tiffin Calvert High School from January 1981 to July 1983.

The Associated Press also reported today that Rev. Ron Bohl, 58, has resigned from the ministry in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville, after an accusation that he made an unwanted sexual advance to a minor while working in Ohio in 1986.

The incident allegedly occurred while Bohl was working as an associate pastor in Carey at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation.

Scharf's removal stems from allegations by two men who said Scharf engaged in misconduct with them, while they were minors, in 1976 and 1981.

At the time of the 1976 incident, Scharf was pastor of St. Mary in Kirby and St. Peter in Upper Sandusky. At the time of the 1981 incident, he was pastor at Resurrection Church in Lexington.

The diocese was made aware of the allegations in March and Scharf "admitted the conduct" and is currently undergoing inpatient therapy, according to a statement released by the diocese.

Scharf had voluntarily removed himself from Monroeville St. Joseph, although allegations against him surfaced about the same time he left.

While he is aware of the allegations against Scharf, Richard Celek of 408 E. 11th St., Port Clinton, said he remembers Scharf as a "priestly person" who performed his job well, both in church and community activities.

Celek has been a parishioner of Immaculate Conception Church since 1960.

"He (Scharf) did very well when he was here," Celek said. "There was nothing negative that was known to me, anyway."

George Keller, 54 of Bellevue, said Monday he was angered by the announcement of the removed priests in the Toledo Diocese, particularly Scharf, because of Monroville's proximity to Bellevue.

Keller has been outspoken about his experience of being abused by Leo Welch when he was pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Bellevue.

Welch was removed from Immaculate Conception in Bellevue in 1961.e now lives in Inkster Michigan and is no longer a priest. In a June 24 Associated Press story, Welch admitted abusing altar boys at a Lucas County retreat.

Keller said he was angry because Bishop James R. Hoffman told him in a meeting two weeks after Easter 2002 that experiences like his couldn't happen anymore because of a diocesan zero-tolerance policy enacted in 1995.

"Where's the zero tolerance?" Keller said.

In response, Rev. Tomuinn, spokesman for the Toledo Diocese, reiterated that the church became aware of the allegations against Scharf in March, and it was the policy that allowed the men to come forward so Scharf's removal could happen.


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