Thursday, May 6, 2010

Priest "Stunned" by Former Colleague's Sex Abuse Admission

Priest "Stunned" by Former Colleague's Sex Abuse Admission
By DICK JOHNSON and BJ LUTZ
Updated 5:10 PM CDT, Wed, May 5, 2010

The pastor of Ascension Church in Oak Park says he was "stunned" when the former head of Loyola Academy entered his office nearly two months ago and confided that he'd once had an inappropriate relationship with a male student.

Father Larry McNally said Rev. Larry Reuter was "very remorseful" during the March 15 conversation about the admission.

McNally said Reuter was popular among the parishioners at Ascension, where he worked the weekend masses for the last 10 years without anyone knowing about the relationship.

The Chicago and Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus claimed they removed Rev. Larry Reuter from active ministry on Monday after a review of Reuter's personnel files. Among the files was Reuter's admission from years earlier that he'd "engaged in an inappropriate relationship" with an 18-year-old student while he was president of the North Shire high school between 1975 and 1990.

The Wilmette-based Loyola was an all boys school until it became co-ed in 1994.

Late Tuesday, a second man reportedly came forward and alleged that he'd also been abused by Reuter. The Chicago Jesuit Province said it is investigating the claim and has contacted the Cook County State's Attorney.

"As in all cases involving Jesuits, we notified the Office of Victim Advocacy at the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus. We also referred the former student to the Office of Victim Advocacy and law enforcement," said Fr. Timothy Kesicki in a written statement.

McNally said Reuter told him there was just one inappropriate relationship. Reuter ended his tenure at Ascension following that March conversation, McNally said, but returned once as a parishioner on Good Friday.

McNally said Reuter has not been seen at the church since that holy weekend.

A Chicago Jesuit Province spokesman said Tuesday that Reuter has been "assigned to internal ministry with and for Jesuits only in a monitored setting." Sources tell NBC Chicago that Reuter is in the process of being moved outside the Chicago area.

Members of SNAP -- the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests -- say the fact that Reuter was able to continue worship for at least 20 years, despite his admission, belies the Church's promises to be open and transparent about clergy sex cases.

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