CINCINNATI (FOX19) - An auxiliary bishop in the Cincinnati archdiocese is accused of failing to report allegations that a priest engaged in inappropriate behavior with teenage boys, according to the Catholic News Agency.
The CNA says sources familiar with the case said that Bishop Joseph R. Binzer was told in 2013 about allegations concerning recently suspended priest, Fr. Geoff Drew, and failed to disclose those allegations to Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr and other officials of the archdiocese.
A spokesperson told the CNA that Bishop Joseph R. Binzer would be removed from his position as head of priest personnel, effectively immediately while the archdiocese begins its own internal investigation.
The archdiocese has not removed Binzer from his post as archdiocesan vicar general, which according to the CNA, is a position of authority second only to the archbishop.
In 2013 and 2015, the central office of the archdiocese received concerns from St. Maximilian Kolbe parishioners regarding Drew’s behavior.
According to the archdiocese, Drew’s alleged behavior involved pattern of things such 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.
In addition, there was a report of Drew texting some of the boys “teasing them about their girlfriends.”
The diocese say the concerns were forwarded to the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office and Butler County Children’s Services.
Their investigation found no evidence of criminal behavior.
The archdiocese says, “Having received noticed that the Prosecutor’s Office had concluded its investigation, we should have investigated either on our own or through a third party. We failed by not doing do.” They went on to day that a third party investigation has been standard procedure for the past year.
Binzer addressed Drew’s behavior with him on two separate occasions prior to 2018, according to the archdiocese. Drew said he was unaware of the concerns and would change his behavior.
In early 2018, Drew applied for a transfer to St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Montfort Heights, according to the CNA.
A month after he was assigned as pastor, the central office received a complaint from at St. Maximilian Kolbe parishioner essentially reiterating the 2015 and earlier concerns. The letter was turned over to the prosecutor’s office for investigation.
In Sept. 2018, at the recommendation of the Butler County Prosecutor, Drew was asked to restrict his involvement with the school during the investigation and was assigned a “monitor” with whom to regularly meet.
“Our acceptance of this recommendation, combined with inadequate oversight, was obviously ineffective and a mistake, and we will not repeat it,” said the archdiocese.
The prosecutor’s office again found no evidence of criminal behavior.
In June 2019, while Drew was in counseling, the archdiocese say a complaint was received from a St. Ignatius family alleging that Drew had texted their teenage son.
The complaint was turned over to the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office and their investigation confirmed the texting, which is a violation of the Decree on Child Protection, but revealed no criminal behavior.
Given the pattern of behavior in contradiction of the Decree on Child protection, Drew was placed on administrative leave on July 23 from St. Ignatius Loyola.
The archdiocese said he will not be returning to St. Ignatius Loyola.
"It’s obvious that in this matter we have handled things very, very poorly, made serious mistakes. And for that I am deeply, deeply apologetic. I’m deeply sorry. I’m sorry for the pain that this has caused so many people, " Archbishop Schnurr said.
The archdiocese says, moving forward, they will not have any monitored or restricted priests.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, says it’s good that church officials are looking into Bishop Binzer’s actions but they also say, “We are dismayed that this investigation is happening now, six years after Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Binzer was first informed of inappropriate behavior by Fr. Geoff Drew.”
They also ask that any suspicious or criminal allegations be reported to Mark Piepmeier at the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office at (513) 946-3078 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.