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Archbishop of Cincinnati expects Vatican investigation into handling of Rev. Geoff Drew case

Geoffrey Drew Court
Posted at 9:16 PM, Sep 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-19 21:57:53-04

CINCINNATI — The Archbishop of Cincinnati expects the Vatican to order a “full investigation” of the archdiocese's handling of allegations of sexual abuse against the Rev. Geoff Drew, archdiocese spokeswoman Jennifer Schack said Thursday.

Archbishop Dennis Schnurr has submitted a “full report” on Drew’s case to the Vatican via the apostolic nuncio — a diplomat who functions as an ambassador for the Catholic Church — in Washington, D.C., Schack told WCPO.

The Catholic News Agency reported those developments earlier this week.

“Archbishop Schnurr takes any accusations of sexual abuse very seriously, as well as any possible lapse in internal procedures for handling allegations,” Schack said.

Schack could not confirm whether Schnurr requested an investigation into Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Binzer’s handling of the Drew case.

“Archbishop Schnurr sent the full report to Rome on the whole case and he is waiting for the Vatican’s response,” Schack told CNA.

Drew was arrested last month on accusations of raping an altar boy more than 30 years ago, before Drew was a priest. The archdiocese is primarily under fire now for how it handled accusations of inappropriate conduct against Drew since 2013, while he was a pastor at two parishes.

At an Aug. 5 news conference, Archdiocese communications director Mike Schafer said Binzer, director of priest personnel, knew about allegations against Drew since 2013, but he didn't share that information with Schnurr.

As a result, Binzer had been removed as the head of personnel, Schafer said at the time.

The archdiocese has admitted mishandling Drew’s case after parishioners complained about him — first at St. Maximilian Kolbe in Liberty Township and again after he was allowed to transfer to St. Ignatius Loyola in Green Township in 2018.

Parishioners of St. Maximilian Kolbe expressed concerns to the archdiocese office about “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,” according to a release from the archdiocese.

In a letter to Schnurr in August 2018, a longtime lay leader of the parish told Schnurr that the church had ignored "red flags" about Drew.

The archdiocese referred the letter to the Butler County Prosecutor's Office. It was the third time since 2013 that the archdiocese had forwarded complaints about Drew's conduct with teenage boys. Prosecutor Mike Gmoser determined Drew's behavior was inappropriate but not criminal.

The archdiocese said it allowed Drew to transfer to St. Ignatius in July 2018 after he requested to be closer to his mother.

It wasn‘t until July 23, 2019, that the archdiocese put Drew on leave. He had been accused of sending inappropriate text messages to at least one boy.

In an Aug. 7 interview with WCPO, Gmoser said he told the archdiocese Drew should be monitored and kept away from children. Instead, the Archdiocese admitted it allowed Drew to self-report his own behavior to an outside monitor. The Archdiocese also acknowledged it didn't share any concerns about Drew with leaders at St. Ignatius Loyola parish or school.

In an Aug. 23 interview, Schack told WCPO that the archdiocese should have put Drew on leave when it received the letter from the St. Max parishioner. Schack also said the archdiocese should not have allowed Drew to monitor himself and try to limit his exposure to children.

Drew was arrested on Aug. 19 on a nine-count indictment for sexual abuse and pleaded not guilty. A former altar boy came forward a week earlier and accused Drew of raping him multiple times between 1998 and 1991 when Drew was music director at St. Jude Church in Bridgetown.