Tuesday, June 06, 2000

Archdiocese clears priest in stabbing case

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIDDLETOWN — The priest who has refused to talk about his stabbing will maintain his silence — with the backing of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

        Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk issued a statement Monday supporting the Rev. Charles Mentrup, Fenwick High School principal, who has refused to cooperate with police as they investigate his stabbing, allegedly by a former student last month in the priest's home.

        Father Mentrup, who is also pastor of the Church of the Incarnation in Centerville, refuses to testify against the former student because he was hearing his confession at the time of the stabbing.

        Archbishop Pilarczyk said he has decided Father Mentrup will continue to lead Fenwick.

        “Representatives of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati have studied all the evidence that was made available to them and have discussed the incident with Father Mentrup. On the basis of what we have learned, we are not aware of any misbehavior on the part of Father Mentrup. His appeal to professional confidentiality seems appropriate,” the archbishop said.

        “In this very difficult situation he conducted himself with full correctness.”

        In a separate statement also released Monday, Father Mentrup said he has recovered and that he hoped “all my friends and the news media will understand and honor the fact that I will not discuss the May 5 incident, either now or at any point.”

        Father Mentrup said he has resumed full duties at Fenwick and his parish in Centerville.

        Last month Butler County Prosecutor John Holcomb dropped charges against the former student — Marcus Finefrock — who was charged with felonious assault. Middletown Police and Mr. Holcomb both said additional investigation into the stabbing was necessary.

        Mr. Holcomb had predicted that the charges would soon be refiled against Mr. Finefrock, a 25-year-old law school graduate. Mr. Holcomb was unavailable for comment Monday.

        Middletown Police Chief Bill Becker said, however, that no charges have been refiled, but he expected to meet with county prosecutors soon to discuss their investigation.


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