The Catholic Diocese of Columbus Friday released a list of names of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor. On March 5, church officials added two additional names to their list, bringing the total to 36.
A post to the diocese's website says they reviewed files of 2,000 clergy who served in Columbus between 1868 and today. The most recent allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a clergy member incardinated in the Diocese of Columbus involved conduct that occurred in 1992.
“For purposes of this list, a credible allegation is one which, based upon a review of the available facts and circumstances, is more likely than not to be true,” reads a statement from Reverend Frederick Campbell. “Factors considered in making this determination included the details provided by the accuser; corroborating evidence; sincerity, circumstances, and reputation of the accuser and the accused.”
The diocese announced back in September that they would release the list.
Attorney Konrad Kircher represents Kevin Heidtman, who alleges Monsignor Thomas Bennett molested him numerous times while Heidtman attended St. Charles Prep in Bexley. Bennett, who died in 2008, was a teacher at the school.
Kircher remains skeptical of the Diocese’s list.
“The problem with lists like this that come exclusively form the diocese is that victims and victim organizations have no means by which to verify or double check the determination,” Kircher says.
Kircher notes he just filed a court documents to compel the diocese to produce documents for the case. He doesn’t think it’s a coincidence the release is coming out now.
Judy Jones shares Kircher’s doubts. She serves the mid-west regional leader of SNAP, the survivor’s network of those abused by priests.
“The priest who sexually abused my brother in the Steubenville diocese, his name is Father Robert A. Brown. He is on the list in the Steubenville Diocese. He needs to be on the list in the Columbus diocese, too,” Jones says. “Because the priest who sexually abused my brother in Steubenville was ordained in Columbus Diocese, and he worked there several years, and there are victims from him there.”
In an emailed statement, a diocese spokesman says, "Monsignor Robert A. Brown was incardinated in the Diocese of Steubenville, and his name appears on the list of credibly accused clergy published by the Diocese of Steubenville. The Diocese of Columbus is currently investigating whether his name should be added to the list published by the Diocese of Columbus."
On March 5, the Diocese determined Brown should be included, adding him to the group of clergy who served in Columbus and were credibly accused of abuse elsewhere. The Diocese also added Father John J. Ryan to the list of clergy in Columbus who were credibly accused after their death.
Jones believes seeing the names in black and white will help people wrestling with their memories.
“That helps a lot because victims who have been sexually abused by clergy, they were kids,” Jones says. “And they feel like they are so alone, and some—I know of men who are in their 80s who didn’t even tell their wives.”
The list includes the names of 17 Columbus clergy members named in credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor within the diocese, if the allegation was made while the clergy was living. Seven clergy members were accused after death. Many of those mentioned in the list are either dead, removed from the ministry or laicized.
The full list is below, including the year clergy members were ordained and their current status.
I. Clergy incardinated in the Diocese of Columbus against whom a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor within the Diocese was made and investigated while the clergy was living.
- Fr. Ronald Atwood, 1969, Deceased
- Fr. Thomas Brosmer, 1969, Removed from ministry
- Fr. R. Michael Ellifritz, 1967, Laicized
- Fr. Roger Emmert, 1962, Deceased
- Msgr. Joseph Fete, 1974, Laicized
- Fr. Michael Hanrahan, 1971, Laicized, deceased
- Dcn. James Hutson, 1982, Deceased
- Fr. Philip Jacobs, 1974, Laicized
- Fr. Raymond Lavelle, 1957, Deceased
- Fr. Frederick Loyd, 1970, Laicized
- Fr. Robert Luchi, 1957, Left ministry
- Fr. Bernard McClory, 1953, Deceased
- Fr. Thomas McLaughlin, 1956, Laicized, deceased
- Fr. Samuel Ritchey, 1973, Laicized, deceased
- Fr. Francis Schaefer, 1955, Deceased
- Fr. George Tumeo, 1965, Laicized
- Fr. Martin Weithman, 1980, Laicized
II. Clergy incardinated in the Diocese of Columbus against whom a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor within the Diocese was made after the clergy’s death.
- Msgr. Harry Estadt, 1932, Deceased
- Fr. John Geiger, 1957, Deceased
- Fr. Louis Hoffman, 1943, Deceased
- Fr. John J. Ryan, 1959, Deceased
- Fr. Robert Schmidt, 1943, Deceased
- Fr. Ted Spires, 1961, Laicized, deceased
- Fr. Alan Sprenger, 1960, Deceased
- Fr. John Tague, 1951, Deceased
III. Clergy incardinated in the Diocese of Columbus against whom a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor at a location outside the Diocese was made and investigated while the cleric was living.
- Fr. Carl Drake, 1964, Removed from ministry
IV. Extern or religious clergy (clergy from other dioceses or religious orders) who served in the Diocese of Columbus who were credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors (alleged conduct occurred in the Diocese of Columbus).
- Fr. Hector Bellinato, PIME, 1935, No longer in Diocese
- Fr. David Heimann, 1958 ,Deceased
- Dcn. Gabriel Hernandez, 2008, Dismissed from the Josephinum, laicized
- Fr. Robert Hunt, C.PP.S., 1954, Deceased
- Fr. Timothy Keane, SS.CC., 1950, No longer in ministry
V. Extern or religious clergy who served in the Diocese of Columbus that were credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors elsewhere (alleged conduct occurred outside the Diocese of Columbus).
- Fr. Pierre Albalaa, MSM, 1995, Removed from ministry
- Fr. Frank Benham, 1963, Left ministry
- Msgr. Robert A. Brown, 1939, Deceased
- Fr. Aaron J. Cote, OP, 1986, Deceased
- Fr. Kenneth France-Kelly, OP, 1981, Deceased
Update March 5: The Diocese added two more names to the list of accused clergy.