Covington Diocese priest in child-sex case defrocked

By Dan Horn
Cincinnati Enquirer
August 13, 2003

The Vatican has defrocked a priest from the Diocese of Covington who was accused of sexually abusing a child.

Diocese officials confirmed Tuesday that the Rev. Louis J. Holtz was recently removed from the priesthood after he voluntarily agreed to undergo laicization, a process that strips priests of their titles and roles with the church.

"For all intents and purposes, Father Holtz is no longer a priest," said Tim Fitzgerald, spokesman for the Diocese of Covington.

Holtz was suspended in 1995 after a Fort Thomas man, Bernard Gerhardstein, told church officials that Holtz had abused him in 1974 in rural Campbell County when he was 13.

Gerhardstein has said he settled out of court with the diocese in 1997 for an undisclosed sum and with Holtz for $10,000 in a separate agreement.

At the time of his suspension, Holtz agreed to undergo laicization, but he did not apply to be defrocked by the Vatican until last July.

Since laicization is a voluntary process, it could not begin until Holtz filed his application. If he had not done so, the church could have sought to force him from the priesthood.

While he was suspended, Holtz was barred from calling himself "Father," could not present himself as a priest and was not permitted to perform priestly duties in public. Now that he has been defrocked, the restrictions are permanent.


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