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Address to St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish

Welcome & Introductions – Deacon Tim Helmick

  • Archbishop Dennis Schnurr
  • Mike Schafer – Communication Director
  • Jennifer Schack – Media Relations Director
  • Rob Reid – Human Resources Director

Prayer – Archbishop Schnurr

Purpose & Process – Mike Schafer Thank you for coming this afternoon. We appreciate you being here. This is a very difficult and emotional topic for all of us. I am a father myself . . .

Before we start, I would like to acknowledge that at our earlier meeting on Monday, July 29, we were very poorly prepared to present what has transpired. We know that it did more harm than good, and for that we are very sorry. We will be more disciplined in the future.

We hope that this afternoon can be a start toward rebuilding trust and unity.

This afternoon, we will:

  • Tell you what we know about Fr. Drew’s conduct that led to Archbishop Schnurr placing him on a leave of absence.
  • Acknowledge our mistakes in the handling of this matter.
  • Outline changes in personnel and process moving forward.
  • Address your concerns and questions to the best of our ability.

Please keep your questions focused on the topic at hand. This will help enable everyone who wants to speak to have a chance. Thank you.

Review of Fr. Drew’s Assignments – Handout

  • Music Minister at St. Jude Parish – 1984-1999
  • Music Teacher at Elder High School – 1984-1990
  • Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West – 1999-2004
  • Internship year at St. Anthony, Madisonville – 2001-02
  • Ordained a priest of the Archdiocese – May 2004
  • Parochial Vicar at St. Luke, Beavercreek – July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2005
  • Pastor of St. Rita, Dayton – July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2009
  • Pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe, Liberty Township – July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2018
  • Pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Cincinnati – appointed July 1, 2018

Narrative – Jennifer Schack

• In 2013 and again in 2015, the central office of the archdiocese received concerns from St. Maximilian Kolbe parishioners regarding Fr. Drew’s behavior. 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 very uncomfortable. In addition, there was a report of Fr. Drew texting some of the boys “teasing them about girlfriends.”

• The concerns reported to the central office were promptly forwarded to the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office and Butler County Children’s Services. Neither office found any evidence of criminal behavior. Having received notice from the Prosecutor’s Office, we should have investigated either on our own or through a third party. We failed by not doing so. (Note: Conducting a third-party investigation in such a circumstance has been our standard operating procedure for the past year.)

• Bishop Binzer, in his role as Director of Priest Personnel, addressed Fr. Drew’s behavior with him on two separate occasions (prior to 2018). Fr. Drew said that he was unaware of the concerns of the parishioners and said that he would change his behavior.

• In 2018, St. Ignatius Parish became what is known as “open listed.” That is, the Priest Personnel Board advertised the open pastor position to the priests of the archdiocese and invited indications of interest. Fr. Drew indicated to the Board that he would like to be considered. He said that his mother lives close to the parish and he would like to move closer to her. Fr. Drew was not asked to leave St. Max. Under our policy, he could have stayed at St. Max for an additional 3 years.

• In August 2018, the month after Fr. Drew was assigned as pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish, Archbishop Schnurr and Bishop Binzer received a complaint via letter from a St. Maximilian Kolbe parishioner essentially reiterating the 2015 and earlier concerns. This letter was turned over to the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office for investigation. This was the first time that Archbishop Schnurr was informed of Fr. Drew’s behavior.

• In September 2018, at the recommendation of the Butler County Prosecutor, Fr. Drew was asked to restrict his involvement with the school during the investigation and was assigned a “monitor” – essentially for accountability – with whom to regularly meet. Our acceptance of this recommendation, combined with inadequate oversight, was clearly ineffective and a mistake, and we will not repeat it.

• In October 2018, Bishop Binzer received a letter from a St. Ignatius parishioner describing her son-in-law’s very negative reaction to Fr. Drew dating back to his experiences with then-Mr. Geoff Drew at Elder High School. The son-in-law stated that Fr. Drew inappropriately touched his leg and made him feel very uncomfortable. This letter was promptly forwarded to the Butler County Prosecutor to inform their investigation which was in progress.

• Fr. Steve Angi, the Chancellor of the Archdiocese, who oversees the Safe Environment Office, received the Butler County Prosecutor’s investigation report in early February 2019. The Prosecutor’s Office again found no evidence of criminal behavior.

• Because the allegations involved possible violations of the Decree on Child Protection, Fr. Angi commissioned Strategic HR – an independent investigation firm used by many organizations and major corporations – to investigate. This investigation began in February 2019. Fr. Drew was asked to continue to restrict his involvement with the school during this investigation.

• In May 2019, Fr. Angi received the investigation report from Strategic HR. The investigation uncovered no criminal behavior, but recommended that Fr. Drew be provided professional and targeted counseling surrounding his emotional IQ and how he interacts with people in the way he communicates and physical interactions. Fr. Drew began attending counseling sessions with a psychologist in June 2019.

• In June 2019, while Fr. Drew was in counseling, a complaint was received by the central office from a St. Ignatius family alleging that Fr. Drew had texted their teenage son. This complaint was immediately turned over to the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office. Their investigation confirmed the texting – which had no pastoral or parish-related purpose – but revealed no criminal behavior on the part of Fr. Drew.

• Given the pattern of behavior in contradiction to the Decree on Child Protection, Archbishop Schnurr removed Fr. Drew as pastor of St. Ignatius on July 23, placing him on a leave of absence and ordering him sent for comprehensive physical, psychological and spiritual evaluation at St. Luke Institute, an independent in-patient treatment facility in Silver Spring, Maryland.

• On July 31, 2019, Deacon Tim Helmick was named Temporary Administrator of St. Ignatius parish. Fr. Dave Kobak, OFM continues in his role as Parochial Vicar and is overseeing the pastoral and spiritual needs of the parish.

• On August 2, 2019, Fr. Steve Angi received a request from the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office to not send Fr. Drew out of town as they were investigating new allegations they had received. As a result, Fr. Angi cancelled Fr. Drew’s planned stay at St. Luke Institute.

• On August 5, 2019, Archbishop Schnurr announced that Bishop Binzer would not be continuing in his role as Director of Priest Personnel. Archbishop Schnurr appointed Fr. David Endres as the new Director of Priest Personnel that same day.

• On August 19, 2019, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati learned that a Hamilton County Grand Jury returned a nine-count indictment against Fr. Geoff Drew stemming from alleged crimes during his time at St. Jude Parish, where then-Mr. Geoff Drew served as music minister 1984-1999 prior to entering seminary. Fr. Drew was arrested that day and remains in custody awaiting trial.

• We clearly made serious mistakes in our handling of this matter, including:

  • In 2013 and 2015, we should have launched an independent third-party investigation of Fr. Drew and not relied solely on the criminal investigations.
  • In 2018, when we put restrictions on Fr. Drew’s interaction with the children of St. Ignatius, we should have put much stronger verification in place, including telling certain St. Ignatius parish and school leaders.

We apologize. We were wrong.

Role of the Laity – Mike Schafer

We have heard from many of you advocating more involvement from the laity in decision making at the Archdiocesan level and I’d like to address that briefly.

There are two Boards that have played a role in this case. The first is the Priest Personnel Board which oversees priest assignments, appointments to parishes, retirements, and transfers. This Board is composed of five priests, nominated by their peers, who represent five different age groups of the clergy within the archdiocese. Archbishop Schnurr has recently added two lay people as consultors to the Priest Personnel Board, as he will discuss momentarily.

The second Board is the Archdiocesan Review Board. The Review Board is a confidential consultative body to the Archbishop concerning abuse cases. The Review Board consists of 10 lay members, currently:

  • Two Montgomery County Common Pleas judges
  • An attorney who is involved in his parish with kids
  • A former Children’s Services Worker
  • A psychologist who works with offenders and victims
  • A victim of priest sexual abuse
  • An employee at Procter & Gamble who coaches in one of our parishes
  • A parent of three who works as a VP at a bank
  • Two other parents

Moving Forward – Archbishop Schnurr and Rob Reid

• Moving forward, we will not have any monitored or restricted priests. We will follow the same process for priests and deacons that we have successfully implemented for lay employees. [Rob Reid to explain in detail.] There must be one consistent standard of conduct whether one is a priest or a lay person.

• As Jennifer indicated, I have made a change at the Director of Priest Personnel position. In addition, I have appointed two experienced lay people as advisors to the Priest Personnel Board. Our goal is to ensure that every member of the Priest Personnel Board has complete insight into a priest’s background and profile before an assignment is made. This will also enable us to make more timely interventions with priests when needed.

• Last week, I sent a report on our handling of this situation to the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C. and a copy has been forwarded to the Holy See in Rome. The Holy Father will ultimately decide whether or not an investigation will take place according to the new moto propio on bishop accountability, Vos estis lux mundi. The investigation would be led by another bishop and a retired U.S. Attorney with access to all the investigative resources necessary.

• Concerning the announcement of a new pastor for St. Ignatius Parish, the Priest Personnel Board and I are carefully considering a short list of candidates. I hope to have an announcement regarding this in the very near future.

• Lastly, I would strongly urge each of you: If you see something, say something. You are not doing anyone any favors by keeping concerns to yourself. Issues only get bigger when they are hidden. We need to address behavior, health, or other issues as soon as possible before they get out of control.

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