Rape case is latest action to bring attention to Catholic clergy in Butler County

In a little more than a year, multiple local Catholic clergy have drawn accusations - and one faces criminal charges - about sexual abuse of youths.

One of the more high-profile cases involving a former Liberty Twp. priest took its next step this week, when a judge ruled an alleged second victim of the Rev. Geoff Drew could testify at Drew’s rape trial, which was also rescheduled from this month to April 2021.

In August 2019 a Hamilton County grand jury indicted Drew on nine counts of raping a boy. The county prosecutor said a man accused Drew of rape and had come forward in the wake of other allegations against Drew made by parishioners at Liberty Twp.'s St. Maximillian Kolbe Catholic Church he once led, as well as the Hamilton County church he was recently transferred to.

The second alleged victim was not involved in the charges because of statue of limitations, prosecutors said. Like the first victim, the alleged second victim is a man who attended St. Jude School in Green Twp. at the same time as the first victim, according to our news partner, WCPO-TV.

The prosecutor said the alleged rapes of the first victim occurred from 1988 to 1991 at St. Jude Church, when Drew was employed there as music director, before he was a member of the clergy or a priest.

In June five men appearing on a recently released list of Marianist priests and brothers who the order says sexually abused children were assigned to the former Hamilton Catholic High School at some time during their careers, according to a Journal-News review of the documents.

Leaders of the Marianists, a Catholic religious order with a 170-year history in the Greater Cincinnati and Dayton region, released a list of 46 priests and brothers they say were found to have abused children since 1950 in the United States.

Marianist officials listed five men, who are deceased, who spent some of their careers working at the former Hamilton Catholic High School under the category of “members found to have sexually abused a minor.”

And earlier this year, a priest from a Fairfield-based Catholic organization was restored to public ministry service after an investigation cleared him of allegations by two Kentucky female minors in August 2019 he had inappropriate contact with them.

A Kentucky grand jury, in the jurisdiction where the priest had participated in a youth summer work program, had earlier decided not to indict Father David Glockner of the Glenmary Home Missioners in Fairfield

In February Father David Glockner of the Glenmary Home Missioners in Fairfield was cleared by church officials.

But it’s Drew’s pending trial that will soon draw the brightest spotlight. And an advocate for victims of sexual abuse by priests said regardless of the outcome, there will be broad ramifications from the prominent case.

“On the plus side, this is a rare opportunity for justice to be delivered to a survivor of clergy sexual abuse, many of whom are time barred by (statues of limitations) by the time they develop the inner strength to report their abuse and get help in their healing process,” said Daniel Frondorf, a leader of the Cincinnati chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

“Even if Drew is not convicted, just the fact that he must stand trial for his actions is a victory of its own kind (because) not being taken seriously or believed at all is a fear that many survivors face, at least the hundreds I have spoken to in my time as an advocate, as they struggle to overcome the trauma of the experiences they’ve dealt with.

“On the downside, the trial could be a triggering event as news coverage brings back memories and opens old scars for survivors of other perpetrators as they relate the facts and testimony of the current trial to their own experiences. Fear, self doubt, and guilt can return to a survivor, especially if they haven’t yet opened up about their experiences with a loved one or therapist.”

In 2019, Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr said of the Drew allegations: “We obviously made serious mistakes in our handling of this matter, for which we are very sorry.”

Cincinnati Archdiocese officials declined to comment heading into Drew’s trial but instead pointed to changes in personnel and programs, including creating a “Father Geoff Drew Information” website listing information pertaining to the accusations against, his work history, public outreach programs and other information since the indictments of last year.

The coming trial will be difficult for some, said Frondorf.

“The memories of the abuse never seem to be too far away for many, and reminders like these can bring them back to the surface, so during the trial it’s likely that me and other SNAP members may get messages and calls and emails from other survivors who need somebody to talk to,” he said.

The Rev. Geoff Drew’s career history:

• 1984-99: Music Minister at St. Jude Parish

• 1988-91: Music Teacher at Elder High School

• 1999-2004: Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West

• 2001-02: Internship year at St. Anthony, Madisonville

• May 2004: Ordained a priest of the Archdiocese

• July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2005: Parochial Vicar at St. Luke, Beavercreek

• July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2009: Pastor of St. Rita, Dayton

• July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2018: Pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe, Liberty Township

• Appointed July 1, 2018: Pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Cincinnati

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