Rev. Geoff Drew of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Liberty Twp. Friday, Sept. 18, 2015. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Liberty Twp. parish meeting postponed concerning suspended priest

Drew, who served as St. Maximilian Kolbe’s pastor for nine years, was transferred last year to serve as pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola in Green Twp. in Hamilton County. Archbishop Dennis Schnurr suspended Drew on July 23 after being accused “of behavior that violates the Archdiocese’s child protection decree,” according to our news partner WCPO.

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In the letter obtained by this news organization, the Rev. Jim Riehle, St. Maximilian Kolbe’s current pastor, said “As of this afternoon, further developments have come to light that make us unable to share with you the most complete and accurate account of this whole situation. Local authorities are conducting further investigations. We do not know what these investigations may reveal. When possible, the archdiocese will hold a forum on this matter at St. Maximilian Kolbe parish. We will also continue to share with you as much as we can and as accurately as we can.

“This terrible time continues to shake us all. I know you have so many questions. I know many of you are justifiably angry. I will do my best to answer your questions and to help you in any way I can,” Riehle said in his letter.

Officials from Mother Teresa Catholic Elementary School also issued a letter Friday to its family and friends. In the letter obtained by this news organization, Principal Aideen Briggs and Board President Michael McNamara, said during Drew’s tenure at at St. Maximilian Kolbe he celebrated Mass several times a year and participated in reconciliation services at the school. The letter also emphasized that Drew did not have a formal role at the school and was not a staff member.

School officials urged anyone to contact the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office with any knowledge or if they should learn of any criminal activity regarding Drew.

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Archdiocesan officials told St. Ignatius parishioners at a meeting last week that the allegations against Drew involved inappropriate texts exchanged with a male student at the school, according to WCPO.

WCPO reported that archdiocese officials at the meeting also said Drew had been under monitoring after “some concerns” surfaced during his time at St. Maximilian Kolbe parish, according to a St. Ignatius parishioner who attended the meeting. Officials did not share whether those concerns had been related to his relocation to St. Ignatius.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office confirmed it had investigated Drew but only found his actions to be “inappropriate,” so no charges were filed, according to WCPO.

Kevin Vance, principal of St. Ignatius of Loyola School told parents last week that school officials were never told that Drew was supposed to be monitored and kept away from children, according to WCPO.

Schnurr said there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing against Drew, but the diocese is “committed to investigating fully any allegations, criminal or otherwise, that we receive,” according to the WCPO.

Schnurr announced Wednesday that Drew will not return to St. Ignatius. He also said that Drew will soon undergo a physical, psychological and spiritual assessment at an independent in-patient treatment facility, according to the archbishop’s letter to the parish. The results of those assessments and recommendations will be considered in determining the next step in the investigation, according to WCPO.

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Drew is the second priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati who is under suspension. The Rev. Clarence Heis was placed on administrative leave pending investigation, according to WCPO. No other information was available on Heis’ latest suspension.

Heis, who was assigned as archdiocesan director of health and hospital ministries, previously served at parishes in Coldwater, Mechanicsburg and North Lewisville.

After pleading no contest on a charge of public indecency and resisting arrest at a Dayton-area park in 2005, he was suspended from active ministry in 2006 for three years before being reinstated in 2009.

Administrative leave is the strongest action a diocesan bishop can take against a priest on his own, according to the archdiocesan website. Priests on administrative leave may not celebrate the sacraments publicly, engage in priestly ministry, or present themselves as priests in any way.

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