Tuesday, June 18, 2002

5 more tell lawyer ex-Elder principal had sexual contact



By Janice Morse, jmorse@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Five more Elder High School alumni have alleged that their former principal, the Rev. Lawrence Strittmatter, had inappropriate physical contact with them during or after racquetball games at a private club, attorney Konrad Kircher said Monday.

        One man left a voice-mail message, which Mr. Kircher played for reporters. Three others spoke to him by phone, Mr. Kircher said. A fifth man contacted Mr. Kircher's client, Bob Fricke, 40, of Price Hill.

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        Mr. Kircher did not identify the men who have called since Mr. Fricke went public. Attorney Mark Vander Laan, who represents the Cincinnati Archdiocese, said he could not discuss the new allegations. The archdiocese is willing to talk to anyone who alleges abuse — true ever since its Decree on Child Protection was adopted in 1993, he said.

        Mr. Fricke, a 1980 Elder graduate, publicly aired his allegations last week about Father Strittmatter, who was principal at Elder from 1970-82. The archdiocese has confirmed that Mr. Fricke's allegations, which the priest did not deny, led to Father Strittmatter's suspension June 9.

        Father Strittmatter is the third ex-Elder faculty member to be accused of misconduct amid a Catholic sex-abuse scandal unfolding nationwide.

        “I'm finding it harder and harder to believe that the church did not know of his proclivities or activities,” Mr. Kircher said.

        Father Strittmatter's lawyer, Roger Makley of Dayton, did not immediately return a reporter's phone call Wednesday.

        Mr. Kircher wants the archdiocese to do more to find victims. He thinks church officials should question Father Strittmatter and put a message in the Elder alumni newsletter.

        Mr. Vander Laan wouldn't say Monday whether those steps were being taken or discussed.

        Mr. Fricke, who has undergone 11 years of therapy, said he talked publicly mainly to encourage others to come forward and seek help.

        The men who contacted him and Mr. Kircher identified themselves as Elder graduates from 1977-80.Father Strittmatter, known as “Stritty,” went to Our Lady of Victory in Delhi Township after leaving Elder in 1982.

        In 1988, he was suspended and went through sex-offender counseling after an Elder student from the 1970s and '80s complained to the archdiocese.

        Father Strittmatter was reassigned to St. Albert the Great parish in Kettering, Ohio, with strict orders to stay away from children.

        He is one of five priests remaining in pastoral roles under the Cincinnati Archdiocese despite substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct. The archdiocese has not identified the other four.

       



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