An advocate for sexually abused church members is calling on southwest Ohio’s Catholic leader to deliver more than talk to parishioners in the wake of a priest’s indictment on rape charges from alleged incidents that happened decades ago.
Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr will hold a parishioners-only meeting on Sept. 5 at one of the Rev. Geoff Drew’s former churches, Dayton’s St. Rita of Cascia Parish, according to Jennifer Schack, director of media relations for the Archdiocese, which oversees Catholic churches in the Greater Cincinnati and Dayton areas. Previous meetings were held with church members in Cincinnati and Liberty Twp.
But those meetings came before Drew, who had already been suspended by the church for alleged inappropriate behavior in Cincinnati and Liberty Twp., was indicted by a Hamilton County grand jury last week on nine counts of rape. He is accused of assaulting a boy during a three-year period from 1988 to 1991 while at St. Jude Parish in Hamilton County.
The alleged victim, now 41, came forward after the church suspended Drew in July, and church leaders have faced criticism they did not do enough to keep Drew from having contact with children after previous reports of inappropriate behavior. Hamilton County’s prosecutor said he believes there are more victims, as Drew worked at seven other locations during or after after his time at St. Jude.
Those locations included St. Luke in Beavercreek, St. Rita in Dayton and St. Maximilian Kolbe in Liberty Twp.
Archdiocese officials have described the indictments and abuse allegations against Drew, who remains in custody in Hamilton County under $5 million bond, as a “horrible situation.”
But Dan Frondorf, leader of the local chapter of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), said Schnurr has to do more.
“I’m glad to hear he is going there (St. Rita) but something positive has to come from it. He has to take some sort of action,” said Frondorf.
Schnurr, he said, “has to have an idea of other kids who may be involved and there has to be a reaching out to them individually.”
Schack said that “the Archdiocese is also working hard to be transparent with information and to apologize for the mistakes that we made. We know that the faithful are rightfully struggling with the many hard emotions associated with this horrible situation.”
This news organization has previously reported on complaints regarding Drew coming from two parishioners at St. Maximilian Kolbe.
A complaint, including allegations of inappropriate touching, texts and sexual comments with teenage boys at St. Maximilian Kolbe, first came in 2013 and was followed in 2015 by a similar complaint to archdiocese officials.
The complaints were sent to the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office, where no evidence of criminal behavior was found.
In September 2018, on the advice of Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser, Drew was asked by archdiocese officials to restrict his involvement with the school, and a monitor was assigned.
Gmoser told this news organization on Friday that his office has received no recent information regarding further allegations and are not currently conducting any investigation.
Meanwhile, other area county prosecutors said they also remain vigilant for any further allegations concerning Drew, who also was pastor of churches in Montgomery and Greene counties.
The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office is keeping open an investigation into Drew that began this month. The office received a complaint about Drew on Aug. 1 regarding alleged inappropriate behavior.
Drew was a pastor at St. Rita in Dayton from July 2005 to June 2009.
“No evidence of criminal conduct was found” in the investigation into the complaint, according to Cara Sweet, executive assistant to Prosecutor Mat Heck, Jr.
The case files into that investigation are not being released because it is open.
“Given the reality that Drew was active in our community for many years, the investigation will remain open at least for the foreseeable future to see if other allegations that should be investigated come forward,” Sweet said. “Therefore, it would be premature to release any further information.”
Heck’s office has not received any further complaints about Drew since news broke of his indictment in Hamilton County.
Drew also worked briefly at St. Luke in the Beavercreek, from July 2004 to June 2005. There are no complaints about Drew on file with the Beavercreek Police Department.
Greene County Prosecutor Stephen Haller said his office has never investigated any complaints about Drew, and it. And it has not received any complaints since news broke of his indictment in Hamilton County.
In announcing the indictment of Drew earlier this week, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said the alleged rapes of an altar boy occurred between 1988 and 1991, when Drew was employed as a music minister at St. Jude School in Green Township in western Hamilton County. Drew was not a priest at the time. He was ordained in 2004.
He most recently served as pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Hamilton County. Archdiocese officials placed Drew on leave from St. Ignatius on July 23 after he had been accused of sending inappropriate text messages to at least one boy.
Drew’s next court hearing was scheduled for Sept. 11. He faces life in prison if convicted.
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