CINCINNATI — Geoff Drew, a Cincinnati Catholic priest charged with 9 counts of rape, is making a third attempt to lower his $5 million full cash bond.
The priest is accused of sexually assaulting a former altar boy from 1988 to 1991 when Drew was the music minister at St. Jude Parish in Green Township.
Drew has been held in the Hamilton County Justice Center since his arrest on Aug. 19, 2019.
On Monday, Drew's attorney, Brandon Moermond, filed the most recent motion to reduce the bond "due to medical pandemic." Moermond wrote that Drew is "literally fearful for his life" in jail because of his "higher risk" of getting COVID-19.
"He has now served 479 days. His trial has been delayed eight (8) times thus far due to the pandemic," Moermond wrote.
Drew is among hundreds of local defendants who have filed motions to reduce or eliminate their bonds due to concerns about COVID exposure in jail, according to court records reviewed by the WCPO 9 I-Team.
In dozens of local murder and rape cases reviewed by the I-Team, judges did not reduce bonds significantly or release those defendants due to motions arguing COVID risk in jail.
In his motion, Moermond wrote that Drew served the first nine months of his time in jail in the medical unit.
If he is able to post bond, Drew would live with his "frail" 84-year-old mother in Cincinnati, Moermond wrote.
"Mr. Drew still contends that he is not a flight risk. He has surrendered his car, his condominium, his bank accounts," Moermond wrote. "He is willing to surrender his passport, his driver’s license and whatever else this Court deems necessary. He will volunteer to be put on EMU surveillance and accept any 'stay away' orders this Court imposes. Mr. Drew maintains his innocence."
In his first motion to reduce Drew's bond, filed on Aug. 23, 2019, Moermond told Judge Leslie Ghiz that "the excessive bond is an abuse" and a "violation" of Drew's constitutional right to a reasonable bond.
On Oct. 9, 2019, Ghiz denied his motion.
Two weeks later, Moermond took his argument for a lower bond to the Ohio Court of Appeals.
In his petition to the appeals court, Moermond claimed Ghiz had set bonds for more than a dozen accused killers and rapists millions of dollars lower than what she required for Drew, and that there was no evidence Drew was a flight risk.
The three Court of Appeals judges unanimously denied Moermond's petition, even though Appeals Court Judge Pierre Bergeron wrote Drew's $5 million bond is "staggering," and that "we acknowledge the comparative evidence is troubling, to say the least."
It's unclear when Ghiz will rule on Drew's most recent request for a reduction in bond.
Drew’s trial is scheduled for April 26 and could take up to two weeks.
Drew's complete career history is as follows, per the archdiocese. Some assignments overlap.
- Music teacher at Elder High School — 1983-1990
- Music minister at St. Jude Parish — 1984-1999
- Mount St. Mary's Seminar of the West — 1999-2004
- Internship year at St. Anthony Madisonville — 2001-2002
- Ordained a priest of the archdiocese — 2004
- Parochial vicar at St. Luke Beavercreek — July 1, 2004-June 30, 2005
- Pastor of St. Rita Dayton — July 1, 2005-June 30, 2009
- Pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe — July 1, 2009-June 30, 2018
- Pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola — July 1, 2018-July 23, 2019