Former St. Maximillian pastoer Fr. Geoff Drew

Officials to meet with Liberty Twp. church community about suspended priest

Parishioners at St. Maximillian Kolbe Catholic Church in Liberty Twp. will have a chance to discuss the details surrounding the suspension of their former pastor, the Rev. Geoff Drew, with archdiocesan officials tonight.

During a press conference Monday, Communications Director Mike Schafer outlined allegations against Drew that led to Archbishop Dennis Schnurr placing him on administrative leave July 23 and ordering him into “comprehensive physical, psychological and spiritual evaluation at an independent in-patient treatment facility.”

“In 2013 and again in 2015, the central office of the archdiocese received concerns from St. Maximilian Kolbe parishioners regarding Fr. Drew’s behavior. The alleged behavior involved a pattern of such things as uninvited bear hugs, shoulder massages, patting of the leg above the knee, and inappropriate sexual comments about one’s body or appearance, directed at teenage boys,” Schafer said. “This behavior naturally made these boys uncomfortable.”

In addition, there was a report of Fr. Drew texting some of the boys “teasing them about girlfriends’.”

RELATED: Archdiocese details matter of former Liberty Twp. priest it says was handled ‘very, very poorly’

A meeting was previously scheduled for Monday night with the St. Max community but abruptly cancelled late last week because of new developments, officials said.

The archdiocese revealed Monday it has also removed Bishop Joseph R. Binzer as director of priest personnel while it conducts an investigation into whether he knew about the allegations concerning Drew but did not inform Schnurr.

Binzer addressed Drew’s behavior with him on two occasions, and Drew said he was unaware of the concerns and would change his behavior, Schafer said.

Drew left St. Max after nine years, taking up the post as pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Cincinnati last summer. There were no other complaints about Drew until Schnurr, who said he was not made aware of the previous complaints, received a letter directly from a St. Maximilian Kolbe parishioner reiterating previous concerns expressed about Drew, the archdiocese said. The letter was given to the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office, church officials said. No criminal activity was found.

Prosecutor Mike Gmoser’s office recommended Drew’s involvement with St. Ignatius School be restricted and a monitor be assigned.

“Our acceptance of this recommendation, combined with inadequate oversight, was obviously ineffective and a mistake, and we will not repeat it,” Schafer said.

Schafer said that since this matter came to light, more complaints have come in both to the archdiocese and the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office.

“I do know that they are receiving a number of reports as could be expected with all the publicity around this,” Schafer said. “Of course, we are urging people to contact either the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office or the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office if they have any information, know of, or experienced anything that is worthy of report regarding Fr. Drew.”

Fr. Steve Angi, chancellor for the archdiocese, said he has received six or seven recent complaints from parishioners at St. Max, St. Ignatius and elsewhere, and he has forwarded them to the prosecutors.

The meeting at St. Max is at 7 p.m. tonight.

Here is how to report suspicious or criminal allegations:

Mr. Mark Piepmeier

Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office

mark.piepmeier@hcpros.org

513.946.3078

Ms. Teresa Maley

Coordinator of Ministry to Survivors of Abuse, Archdiocese of Cincinnati

tmaley@catholiccincinnati.org

513.263.6623 or 1.800.686.2724 ext. 6623

Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.

X