EVANSVILLE, Ind. -- Roman Catholic Church officials said yesterday thatmore than 10 people have come forward with allegations they weresexually abused by a priest who led two parishes in Dubois County.
The Diocese of Evansville said the numberof allegations against Monsignor Othmar Schroeder, who died in 1988,has continued to grow since Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger announced theabuse during sermons at a Jasper church two weeks ago.
Diocese spokesman Paul Leingang said the allegations were the mostagainst one priest in the diocese's 64-year history, but he citedchurch confidentiality in not providing more specific numbers.
"The continual thing is the invitation for people who have been abused to come forward," Leingang said.
Schroeder, a once admired priest, was thefounding pastor of Holy Family Church in Jasper. He remained at theparish for 28 years until 1975, when he was transferred to Sacred HeartChurch in nearby Schnellville.
The allegations in recent weeks havesullied Schroeder's legacy and led the bishop to ask that his picturebe removed from Holy Family, and for the Knights of Columbus branch inJasper to change the name of a memorial in his honor.
David Clohessy, director of the SurvivorsNetwork of those Abused by Priests, said the number of victims ofclergy sex abuse who come forward often is a fraction of the populationthey represent.
Clohessy said he expected the number of allegations to grow.
"My hunch is that if 10 have come forward,there may well be dozens more still trapped in shame and confusion,"Clohessy said. "Typically only the tip of the iceberg comes forward."
Clohessy, a victim of clergy sexual abuse,plans to protest tomorrow outside Evansville's cathedral with fliersdemanding that church officials disclose details of "a pedophilepriest's sex crimes" and urge others abused by clergy to come forward.
Gettelfinger has told diocese parishes inthe past two weeks that he learned of the allegations as early as 1996,but that his commitment at the time was to offer counseling and protectvictims' confidentiality. The scope of the abuse, however, now appears"greater than we knew," the bishop said.
BishopAccountability.org, a Massachusettsgroup that has amassed thousands of documents on abusive priests andtheir bishops, lists eight priests from the Evansville Diocese accusedof misconduct, including two who have been convicted of possessingchild pornography.
The number is the second highest in thestate's five dioceses, behind the Archdiocese of Indianapolis with 16priests, according to the group.
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