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  Home :: 2007 September :: Number of allegations rises against southern Indiana priest 

Number of allegations rises against southern Indiana priest

Roman Catholic churchofficials said Friday that more than 10 people have come forward withallegations they were sexually abused by a southern Indiana priest.

TheDiocese of Evansville said the number of allegations against MonsignorOthmar Schroeder, who died in 1988, has continued to grow since BishopGerald Gettelfinger announced the abuse during sermons at a Jasperchurch two weekends ago.

Diocese spokesman Paul Leingang said theallegations were the most against one priest in the diocese's 64-yearhistory, but he cited church confidentiality in not providing morespecific numbers.

"The continual thing is the invitation for people who have been abused to come forward," Leingang said.

Schroeder,a once admired priest, was the founding pastor of the Holy FamilyChurch in Jasper, about 50 miles northeast of Evansville. He remainedat the parish for 28 years until 1975, when he was transferred toSacred Heart Church in nearby Schnellville.

The allegations inrecent weeks have sullied Schroeder's legacy and led the bishop to askfor his picture be removed from Holy Family and for the Knights ofColumbus branch in Jasper to change the name of a memorial in his honor.

DavidClohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abuse by Priests,said the number of victims of clergy sex abuse who come forward oftenare a fraction of the population they represent.

Clohessy said he expected the number of allegations of abuse at Schroeder's hands to grow.

"Myhunch is that if 10 have come forward, there may well be dozens morestill trapped in shame and confusion," Clohessy said. "Typically onlythe tip of the iceberg comes forward."

Clohessy, a victim ofclergy sexual abuse, planned to protest Sunday outside Evansville'scathedral with fliers demanding church officials disclose details of "apedophile priest's sex crimes" and urge others abused by clergy to comeforward.

Gettelfinger has told diocese congregations in the pasttwo weeks that he learned of the allegations as early as 1996, but thathis commitment at the time was to offer counseling and protect victims'confidentiality.

The scope of the abuse, however, now appears "greater than we knew," the bishop said.,a Massachusetts group that has amassed thousands of documents onabusive priests and their bishops, lists eight priests from theEvansville Diocese accused of misconduct, including two who have beenconvicted of possessing child pornography.

The number is thesecond highest in the state's five dioceses, falling behind theArchdiocese of Indianapolis with 16 priests, according to anorganization's tally.


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Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia