Cincinnati’s Number Two Goes Down

News: US News
by Rodney Pelletier  •  •  May 8, 2020   

Auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse allegations

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CINCINNATI ( - The archdiocese of Cincinnati's second in command is stepping down after it has been shown he didn't do enough to keep an alleged priest-rapist out of parishes.

On Thursday Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cincinnati auxiliary bishop Joseph Binzer after he was censured by Abp. Dennis Schnurr for not communicating the history of a priest arrested last year.

Fr. Geoff Drew (Photo: WCPO)

Binzer was both the vicar of the archdiocese — second after the archbishop, director of priest personnel and a member of the U.S. bishops' conference committee for the protection of children and young people.

In August 2019 Fr. Geoff Drew was arrested and charged with raping an altar boy while he was music director of St. Jude Church in Hamilton County, Ohio, in the late 1980s and 1990s — when the alleged victim was 10 and 11 years old and before Drew was ordained a priest.

Binzer was removed from his position as director of priest personnel by Schnurr the same month as Drew's arrest, pending a diocesan investigation.

A witness at the time commented "The archbishop was as mad as I have ever seen him. When he was told that Bp. Binzer had withheld information, well, he used words I have never heard him use before."

Schnurr sent a report to the Vatican in September expecting a full investigation to be conducted.

Binzer was director of priest personnel and a member of the U.S. bishops' conference committee for the protection of children and young people.

Binzer had allegedly not communicated past allegations made against Drew, saying in a statement, "I am deeply sorry for my role in addressing the concerns raised about Fr. Drew, which has had a negative impact on the trust and faith of the people of the archdiocese of Cincinnati," adding "I believe this to be in the best interest of the archdiocese."

A diocesan document titled "Fr. Geoff Drew — Sequence of Events," admits there were complaints against Drew in 2013 and 2015 while he was pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe parish:

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. 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."

But an investigation by law enforcement showed no crime was committed and Binzer allegedly didn't communicate any of it to Abp. Schnurr.

He was sent for further evaluation at 'an independent inpatient treatment facility.'

Drew was transferred to St. Ignatius of Loyola parish in July 2018 at his own request, claiming he wanted to be closer to his elderly mother who lived a few miles from the parish.

St. Ignatius of Loyola parish

But in August, several complaints against Drew came to the archdiocese's attention after parishioners at St. Ignatius of Loyola lodged complaints personally with Schnurr and the county prosecutor became involved.

The diocese said the prosecutor's "investigation confirmed the texting, which is a violation of the Decree on Child Protection, but revealed no criminal behavior on the part of Fr. Drew. The content of the text messages was innocuous."

In July the archdiocese placed Drew on leave "given the pattern of behavior in contradiction to the Decree on Child Protection," and he was sent for further evaluation at "an independent inpatient treatment facility."

In a letter to the faithful, Schnurr declines to reveal what Binzer's place will now be in the archdiocese, only asking "please keep Bp. Binzer and all the people of the archdiocese in your prayers."

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