Friday, August 27, 2010

Diocese: No proof against priest found

Diocese: No proof against priest found

by: BILL SHERMAN Tulsa World Religion Writer
Friday, August 27, 2010
8/27/2010 6:32:10 AM

The Diocese of Tulsa's Diocesan Review Board has not been able to substantiate allegations against a Claremore priest who was accused by a Denver man of abusing him 32 years ago.

The Rev. Paul Eichhoff will stay in his position as pastor of St. Cecilia's Catholic Church in Claremore.

His accuser, Paul Weber, told the diocese early this year that in 1978, when he was 9, he and two other boys were molested by Eichhoff at St. Mary's parish in Brookside.

He also filed a report with the Tulsa Police Department. In it, he identified one of the other boys as Kelly Kirk, a classmate. Weber said his memory of the event remained repressed for years, returning only recently while he was working with a therapist.

In 2002, a Kelly Kirk accused Eichhoff of abusing him 25 years earlier and sued him for damages. A Tulsa County jury cleared Eichhoff in that case.

The Diocesan Review Board sent Weber a letter dated Aug. 20 that stated: "After thorough and impartial consideration of the facts before us ... we were not able to substantiate or verify your claims and allegations against Father Eichhoff. Therefore our recommendation to Bishop (Edward J.) Slattery is that no action be taken against Father Eichhoff and that he remain an active priest in the Diocese of Tulsa."

David Clohessy, executive director of a group called Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the decision is "proof-positive that the Catholic hierarchy continues to protect predators instead of children."

"The biased and inadequate so-called 'investigation' by Tulsa Catholic officials shows that top church staff is, indeed, corrupt, still recklessly and callously putting kids in harm's way."

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