Former Butler County priest indicted on rape charges in Hamilton County

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Officials from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati held a news conference on Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, regarding suspended priest Geoff Drew, who once was assigned to a Liberty Twp. church.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A former Butler County priest is facing nine counts of rape involving an altar boy, according to the prosecutor of Hamilton County.

Prosecutor Joe Deters said at a press conference today that a grand jury has indicted the Rev. Geoff Drew on nine counts of raping a boy, who Deters said came forward recently in the wake of other allegations against Drew made by parishioners at a Liberty Twp. church he led, as well as the Hamilton County church he was recently transferred to.

Deters said the alleged rapes occurred from 1988 to 1991 at St. Jude Church in Hamilton County, when Drew was employed there as music director.

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Drew, who was arrested today and remains in custody, faces a life sentence if convicted, said Deters.

“This is an incredibly disturbing case,” said Deters, who added, “we believe there is pretty good probability there are other victims at schools he worked at.”

Geoff Drew was booked into the Hamilton County Jail on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019.
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Geoff Drew was booked into the Hamilton County Jail on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019.

The alleged victim was 10 and 11 years old when the acts are alleged to have happened.

Now an adult, the alleged victim is 41 years old, he said.

“It took a lot of bravery for what he did,” in coming forward to Cincinnati Police. “He is a very credible strong witness in this case.”

Drew worked in Beavercreek, Dayton and Liberty Twp. during his career. He was pastor at St. Maximilian Kolbe Liberty Twp. from 2009 to 2018 before he was transferred to St. Ignatius of Loyola in Cincinnati, from which he was suspended in July by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

“When he (Drew) was transferred to St Ignatius he was told to stay away from the kids. He didn’t stay away from the kids. He sent text messages that were innocuous but he wasn’t’ allowed to have any contact with them,” Deters said.

The man who is making the allegations against Drew “was very emotional (and) it was emotional for him and it was emotional for the grand jury.”

Deters said the man come forward because “he wanted to stop this behavior.”

The archdiocese released a statement after the announcement of the indictment.

“Today, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati learned that a Hamilton County Grand Jury returned a nine-count indictment against Fr. Geoff Drew stemming from alleged crimes during his time at St. Jude Parish, where he served as music director 1984-1999,” the church wrote. “The Archdiocese of Cincinnati was made aware of these allegations after Archbishop Dennis Schnurr removed Fr. Drew as pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish on July 23. We have fully cooperated with this investigation and will continue to do so.

“The protection of young people is of paramount importance and can never be compromised. We urge anyone who has any information regarding the accusations against Fr. Geoff Drew to please report it to Cincinnati Police Detective Dana Jones in the Personal Crimes Unit at 513-352-6947 or dana.jones@cincinnati-oh.gov.

“Let us continue to pray for the healing of all victims of the horrific sin of sexual abuse.”

Earlier this month the Journal-News reported hundreds of parishioners came to the St. Maximillian Kolbe Catholic Church in Butler County’s Liberty Twp. to hear the leader of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati explain why a the longtime priest was suspended.

Members nearly filled every pew in the massive church with many lining up to question the handling of Rev. Geoff Drew, their former pastor.

Archdiocese officials have said “serious mistakes” were made in their handling of concerns and complaints brought to them regarding Drew.

During an Aug. 5 press conference, Archdiocese Spokesman Mike Schafer said outlined allegations against Drew that led to Schnurr placing him on administrative leave July 23 and ordering him into “comprehensive physical, psychological and spiritual evaluation at an independent in-patient treatment facility.”

“In 2013 and again in 2015, the central office of the archdiocese received concerns from St. Maximilian Kolbe parishioners regarding Father Drew’s behavior. The alleged behavior involved a pattern of such things as uninvited bear hugs, shoulder massages, patting of the leg above the knee, and inappropriate sexual comments about one’s body or appearance, directed at teenage boys,” Schafer said.“This behavior naturally made these boys uncomfortable.”

In July 2018, prior to the allegations being made public, Drew applied for and was named pastor at St. Ignatius of Loyola in Hamilton County.

In October 2018, a letter from a St. Ignatius parishioner reported her son-in-law had a very negative experience with Drew while they were at Elder High School.

In June a St. Ignatius family alleged Drew texted their son. The complaint was turned over to the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office. The text was confirmed and found to have violated the Decree on Child Protection.

On July 23 Drew was suspended.

The Rev. Geoff Drew’s career history: 

• Music Minister at St. Jude Parish — 1984-1999

• Music Teacher at Elder High School — 1988-1991

• Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West — 1999-2004

• Internship year at St. Anthony, Madisonville — 2001-02

• Ordained a priest of the Archdiocese — May 2004

• Parochial Vicar at St. Luke, Beavercreek — July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2005

• Pastor of St. Rita, Dayton — July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2009

• Pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe, Liberty Township — July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2018

• Pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Cincinnati — appointed July 1, 2018