Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Parishioners meet to discuss abuse allegation

By Jennifer Edwards, jedwards@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HARRISON TWP. — At least 100 people, some with children, attended a meeting Monday at Queen of Martyrs Church in Harrison Township, just north of Dayton, Ohio.

        The meeting was arranged so parishioners could get more information and talk about allegations against their former pastor, the Rev. Thomas Hopp.

        Father Hopp resigned Wednesday after confirming an abuse allegation reported to Archdiocese of Cincinnati authorities by the victim.

        Longtime parishioner Virginia Smith of Butler Township in Montgomery County said she sent five children through the school at Queen of Martyrs. She said church officials brought the problem on themselves because they covered it up for too long.

        “We have a right to know when we have children in these schools. If they hadn't covered all this up we wouldn't be in the shape we're in now,” she said.

        Bill Loftus, director of development at the church, said the parish has more than 400 families and a kindergarten through eighth grade school with about 150 to 160 students. “Obviously, what has happened is wrong,” he said. “It's one man. One person. The church is bigger than that.”

        Mr. Loftus said he hoped the incident would solidify the parish.

        Before the meeting began, members of the media were ordered off the property by Dayton police, who said the request came from some parishioners and from interim pastor Rev. William H. Schwartz.

        After the meeting, parishioner Vivian Koob of Dayton said most people at the meeting were calm, “but some were upset.”

        She said the archdiocese will bring in a team of social workers and more meetings will be held. Some people at the meeting, she said, wanted to make sure Father Hopp would never have contact with children again.


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