February 18, 2002 at 9:13 PM EST - Updated July 2 at 2:40 AM
Last month, a judge sentenced a now defrocked Boston priest, 66-year-old John Geoghan, to a decade in prison for indecent assault on a 10-year-old boy. During the investigation, more than 130 people stepped forward with similar claims of rape or fondling at the hands of 80 other Massachusetts priests. However, the most disturbing revelation stems from the city's Bernard Cardinal Law reassigning, rather than removing, the offenders.
The widening sex abuse scandal has led several Tri-State Catholics to ponder local polices. Rest assured, the vast majority of priests resemble Father Jim Willig, a beloved clergyman who succumbed to cancer last year.
Yet exceptions exist in George Cooley and Earl Bierman. Father Ken Schoettmer recently admitted to sexually abusing three boys in 1984 and 1999, but didn't face criminal charges due to a statute of limitations.
The Diocese of Covington implemented zero tolerance rules seven years ago. According to Father Gerald Reinersman, every employee and volunteer for the church must meet the guidelines or face the consequences. Penalties for alleged misconduct with a minor start with an immediate removal and the forwarding of claims to criminal authorities.