More than 10 say late S. Indiana priest abused them
Bishop has asked that the man's picture be removed from the church he founded
EVANSVILLE, Ind. -- 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 spokesmanPaul Leingang said the allegations were the most against one priest inthe diocese's 64-year history, but he cited church confidentiality innot 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 the founding pastor of the Holy FamilyChurch in Jasper, about 50 miles northeast of Evansville. He remainedat the parish for 28 years.
The allegationsin recent weeks have led the bishop to ask for Schroeder's picture tobe removed from Holy Family and for the Knights of Columbus branch inJasper to change the name of a memorial in his honor.
DavidClohessy, director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests,said he expected the number of allegations of abuse at Schroeder'shands to grow.
"My hunch is that if 10 havecome forward, there may well be dozens more still trapped in shame andconfusion," Clohessy said. "Typically only the tip of the iceberg comesforward."
Clohessy, a victim of clergysexual abuse, planned to protest Sunday outside Evansville's cathedralwith fliers demanding church officials disclose details of "a pedophilepriest's sex crimes" and urge others abused by clergy to come forward.
Gettelfingerhas told diocese congregations in the past two weeks that he learned ofthe allegations as early as 1996, but that his commitment at the timewas to offer counseling and protect victims' confidentiality.
The scope of the abuse, however, now appears "greater than we knew," the bishop said.
BishopAccountability.org, a Massachusetts group that has amassed thousands ofdocuments on abusive priests and their bishops, lists eight priestsfrom the Evansville Diocese accused of misconduct, including two whohave been convicted of possessing child pornography.
Thenumber is the second highest in the state's five dioceses, fallingbehind the Archdiocese of Indianapolis with 16 priests, according tothe organization's tally.
for a listing of alternate locations.