Saturday, September 27, 2003

Bishop backs diocese report


He says no priests in Covington guilty

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

ERLANGER - In an open letter to Northern Kentucky Catholics on Friday, Bishop Roger Foys said the Diocese of Covington stands by its Aug. 29 report on the history of sexual abuse of minors in the diocese.

The letter in Friday's edition of The Messenger, the official diocesan newspaper, said that church officials "stand by the accuracy, honesty and integrity of (their) report."

"The report reveals the extent of sexual abuse of minors in our diocese in the course of the last 50 years as known to us," Foys wrote. "We are doing all we can to ensure that sexual abuse of minors by priests and employees of the diocese does not occur again."

The 16-page report sent last month to Catholic households in the 14-county Diocese of Covington said the diocese has received 158 credible allegations against 30 of 372 priests during the past 50 years.

After reviewing the church files, Cincinnati lawyer Stan Chesley claimed there were likely 500 to 1,000 people abused by priests in the Covington Diocese during the past 50 years. Chesley will have a chance to make his suit - outlining 50 years of alleged abuse by priests and cover-ups by church officials - a class action in a hearing set for Wednesday.

On Sept. 19, church officials placed a priest and a teacher on leave of absence after Chesley said the diocese spent more than 20 years concealing claims the men sexually abused teen-agers.

Church officials in the Lexington Diocese removed the Rev. Stephen Gallenstein from Frankfort's only Catholic parish after learning of the allegations from a reporter.

Officials in the Covington Diocese suspended Covington Latin teacher Paul Arbogast after court papers filed last week in Boone County accused him of molesting boys in the 1970s."With regard to the priests who became part of the Lexington Diocese when that diocese was formed, those complete and original files were given to the Lexington Diocese in 1989,'' Foys wrote. "Furthermore, our very thorough search of all diocesan priests' files turned up nothing regarding either of the two men now accused of sexual abuse of minors. I assure you once again that, to the best of our knowledge, there is no priest in public ministry in the Diocese of Covington who has abused a minor.''

E-mail cschroeder@enquirer.com




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