Fourth delay for Father Drew rape trial
CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The trial of a Cincinnati-area priest accused of raping a 10-year-old altar boy three decades ago is being delayed for the fourth time because prosecutors can’t find a witness, court records show.
Father Geoff Drew’s trial was scheduled to start Monday morning before Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Leslie Ghiz.
Now, a plea or trial setting is set for Nov. 15 with a trial scheduled to start Dec. 2, according to the latest court filings in the case.
Drew, 59, pleaded not guilty to nine counts of rape when he was indicted in August 2019 and has been in jail at the Hamilton County Justice Center for more than two years.
He remains at the Hamilton County jail in lieu of $5 million bond and faces life in prison if convicted.
A grassroots organization called Concerned Catholics of Cincinnati is made up of mostly parents and grandparents of Catholic children. They still held a vigil for Monday outside the courthouse despite the trial’s delay.
“We want to show support for the victims and we want to show parents in our community that we need to be proactive in protecting children from hidden predators,” one of the group’s founders, Teresa Dinwiddie-Herrmann, said.
She expressed dismay for the victims over yet another delay.
“It takes so much courage to come forward. It is disheartening that it has taken two years to get to a trial and yet things are delayed again at the last minute,” she said.
“It feels like victims are constantly revictimized. Many of them don’t get the chance to go to a court and then when they do get a chance to get their predator to trial, it gets delayed and it doesn’t feel like justice. It’s just more delay and more anxiety and stress. It’s traumatic for victims all over again.”
Father Drew remains a priest in the archdiocese who is currently on administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal charges, according to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati
The previous trial delay, announced back in April, was at the request of Father Drew’s attorney.
It was over new allegations and evidence prosecutors outlined in voluminous court documents last year.
Those details are expected to be detailed during the trial.
Father Drew is accused of raping a fourth-grader between 1988 and 1991 when he was the music minister at St. Jude School in Green Township.
Father Drew was not a priest at the time, according to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.
The victim, who is now in his 40s, told authorities the abuse occurred in Drew’s school office after school hours. Deters has described the victim’s grand jury testimony as compelling, convincing and emotional.
Father Drew, who was ordained a priest in 2004, was put on administrative leave in July 2019 and indicted the following month.
Court records show prosecutors plan to reveal multiple new allegations at his trial through testimony from the victim that he had sex with Father Drew when he was a little older, a teenager, and from a new witness, a second alleged sexual abuse victim.
But, due to the statute of limitations, Father Drew cannot be charged with those two new alleged crimes.
The second alleged sexual abuse victim was 12 or younger at the time, court records show.
Drew’s lawyer has rebutted the allegations in court filings of his own.
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