Diocese of Evansville releases list of credible allegations against clergy

Diocese of Evansville releases list of credible allegations against clergy

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - In late September 2018, in response to the request of clergy abuse victims and their families, Bishop Joseph M. Siegel announced that the Diocese of Evansville would collect and release the names of priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.

The following list of clergy is based on the review of records and the recommendations of current and previous Diocesan Review Board members. The current Review Board consists of six lay persons and one priest.

Current and past members of the Board hold or have held positions in mental health counseling, clinical psychology, the practice of law, the medical field, and law enforcement, including specialty in areas of child physical and sexual abuse.

A credible claim is one for which, following a review of information, the Review Board determined as believable and plausible, and the Bishop accepted as credible; or the priest admitted to or acknowledged.

Michael Allen

Year of birth: 1944

Date of priestly ordination: June 5, 1971

Number of credible allegations: 1; Admitted

Action taken: Not in public ministry, July 2002

Places Served:

  • Associate Pastor, Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Haubstadt, June 29, 1971
  • Summer Ministry Program Director, December 6, 1972
  • Associate Pastor, St. Joseph Church, Princeton, June 14, 1974
  • Associate Pastor, St. John the Baptist Church, Vincennes, August 21, 1975
  • Teacher, Rivet High School, Vincennes, August 21, 1975
  • Administrator, St. Patrick, Corning, January 13, 1976
  • Administrator, All Saints, Cannelburg, January 13, 1976
  • Associate Pastor, St. Joseph Church, Jasper, August 1, 1979
  • Associate Pastor, St. Simon Church, Washington, July 29, 1980
  • Pastor, St. Mary Church, Washington, August 10, 1981
  • Associate Pastor, St. Joseph Church, Jasper, August 3, 1982
  • Military service, Assigned outside the diocese, September 21, 1984
  • Associate Pastor, St. Joseph Church, Jasper, June 5, 1995
  • Pastor, St. Joseph Church, Evansville, March 3, 1999
  • Pastor, St. Theresa Church, Evansville, March 3, 1999
  • Pastor, St. Celestine Church, Celestine, June 27, 2001
  • Not in public ministry, July 2002

Date posted as part of this list: February 22, 2019

John Breidenbach

Year of birth: 1959

Date of priestly ordination: August 21, 1987

Number of credible allegations: 1; This diocesan priest admitted and self-disclosed sexual abuse of minors that occurred prior to his ordination as a deacon.

Action taken: Not in public ministry, March 14, 2014

Places served:

  • Associate Pastor, St. John the Baptist Church, Vincennes, September 4, 1987
  • Associate Pastor, Holy Family Church, Jasper, June 27, 1990
  • Diocesan Vocation Team, February 26, 1992
  • Associate Pastor, Resurrection Church, Evansville, September 23, 1992
  • Pastor, St. Joseph Church, Evansville, August 11, 1993
  • Pastor, Corpus Christi Church, Evansville, November 10, 1993
  • Sacramental Minister, Holy Trinity Church, Evansville, November 11, 1998
  • Associate Pastor, Holy Rosary Church, Evansville, August 18, 1999 with residence at Villa Maria on Lincoln Avenue next to Memorial High School
  • Associate Pastor, St. John Church, Newburgh, June 18, 2003
  • Pastor, Precious Blood Church, Jasper, June 9, 2004
  • Sacramental Minister, St. Mary Church, Ireland, January 27, 2010
  • Sacramental Minister, Resurrection Church, Evansville, May 28, 2010
  • Sacramental Minister, St. Theresa Church, Evansville, September 8, 2010
  • Not in public ministry, March 14, 2014

Date posted as part of this list: February 22, 2019

Joseph Clauss

Year of birth: 1930

Date of priestly ordination: May 26, 1956

Number of credible allegations: 10; Admitted to at least one allegation

Action taken: Removed from public ministry, July 6, 1992; deceased October 11, 2003

Places Served:

  • Associate Pastor, St. Mary Church, Washington, June 8, 1956
  • Associate Pastor, Holy Spirit Church, Evansville, August 18, 1959
  • Teacher, Memorial High School, Evansville, August 18, 1959
  • Residence at St. Joseph Church, Vanderburgh County, August 21, 1964
  • Residence at St. Boniface Church, Evansville, August 13, 1965
  • Residence at Good Shepherd Church, Evansville, February 19, 1966
  • Pastor, St. Patrick Church, Corning, August 18, 1966
  • Superintendent, St. John High School, Loogootee, August 25, 1967
  • Pastor, St. Mary – Barr Township; also St. Michael Mission, August 25, 1967
  • Superintendent, Washington Catholic High School, June 6, 1969
  • Administrator, St. Patrick, Corning, June 27, 1969
  • Pastor, Resurrection Church, Evansville, June 3, 1975
  • Pastor, St. Peter Church, Montgomery; also St. Patrick and St. Michael Missions, November 3, 1986
  • Administrative Leave, December 29, 1990
  • Removed from public ministry, July 6, 1992
  • Deceased October 11, 2003

Date posted as part of this list: February 22, 2019

James Clements

Year of birth: 1928

Date of priestly ordination: June 12, 1954

Number of credible allegations: 1; Admitted

Action taken: Dispensed from the clerical state, April 18, 1977; deceased, December 21, 1996

Places served:

  • Associate Pastor, St. Wendel Church, St. Wendel, August 20, 1954
  • Associate Pastor, Sacred Heart Church, Vincennes, July 29, 1955
  • Associate Pastor, St. Joseph Church, Evansville, August 18, 1959
  • Associate Pastor, St. Mary Church, Washington, August 17, 1962
  • Pastor, Blessed Sacrament Church, Oakland City, May 29, 1964
  • Associate Pastor, Good Shepherd Church, July 13, 1972
  • Medical leave, April 18, 1974
  • Dispensed from the clerical state, April 18, 1977
  • Deceased, December 21, 1996

Date posted as part of this list: February 22, 2019

Wilfred Englert

Year of birth: 1952

Date of priestly ordination: May 9, 1986

Number of credible allegations: 1; Admitted

Action taken: Removed from public ministry, July 26, 2005; convicted of sexual battery, October 3, 2006; served prison sentence; released from incarceration, January 15, 2008; dispensed from the clerical state, October 1, 2009

Places Served:

  • Associate Pastor, St. John the Baptist, Vincennes, June 20, 1986
  • Associate Pastor, Holy Family Church, Jasper, July 14, 1987
  • Associate Pastor, St. John Church, Newburgh, June 27, 1990
  • Pastor, St. Joseph Church, Evansville, November 10, 1993
  • Associate Pastor, Holy Rosary Church, Evansville, November 1, 1999
  • Associate Pastor, St. Agnes Church, Evansville, April 6, 2000
  • Pastor, St. Raphael Church, June 21, 2000
  • Administrator, St. Celestine Church, August 28, 2002
  • Associate Pastor, St. Joseph Church, Jasper, January 28, 2004
  • Removed from public ministry, July 26, 2005
  • Convicted of sexual battery, October 3, 2006; served prison sentence; released from incarceration, January 15, 2008
  • Dispensed from the clerical state, October 1, 2009

Date posted as part of this list: February 22, 2019

Mark Kurzendoerfer

Year of birth: 1955

Date of priestly ordination: May 8, 1981

Number of credible allegations: 4; Admitted to two allegations

Action taken: Removed from public ministry, July 2, 2002; dispensed from the clerical state, November 1, 2009

Places Served:

  • Administrator, St. Mary Church, Sullivan, June 1, 1981
  • Associate Pastor, St. Simon Church, Washington, July 1, 1981
  • Teacher, Washington Catholic, Washington, July 1, 1981
  • Residence, Faculty House on Lincoln Ave., Evansville, June 11, 1984
  • Teacher, Mater Dei High School, Evansville, June 11, 1984
  • Administrator, Holy Angels Church, New Harmony, July 1, 1986
  • Diocesan Vocation Board, December 10, 1989
  • Diocesan Vocation Team, February 26, 1992
  • Sacramental Minister, St. Thomas Church, Vincennes, October 1, 1995
  • Associate Pastor, Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Haubstadt, and assisting at St. Joseph, Princeton, Blessed Sacrament, Oakland City, July 16, 1999
  • Removed from public ministry, July 2, 2002
  • Dispensed from the clerical state , November 1, 2009

Date posted as part of this list: February 22, 2019

Arthur Mergen

Year of birth: 1941

Date of priestly ordination: June 4, 1976

Number of credible allegations: 2

Action taken: In 1988, left the Diocese of Evansville without the Bishop’s permission; deceased, December 14, 1994

Places served:

  • Associate Pastor, Sacred Heart Church, Vincennes, June 24, 1976
  • Associate Pastor, St. John the Baptist Church, Vincennes, July 1, 1977
  • Associate Pastor, St. Joseph Church, Jasper, July 1, 1981
  • Pastor, St. Peter Church, Montgomery; Administrator, St. Michael’s, Daviess County, September 1, 1981 
  • Administrator, St. Patrick, Corning, July 1, 1984
  • Pastor, Holy Cross Church, Fort Branch, July 1, 1986
  • Pastor, St. Mary Church, Washington, June 16, 1988; Relieved of duties on August 17, 1988 and took up residence at St. Francis Xavier, Vincennes
  • In 1988, left the Diocese of Evansville without the Bishop’s permission
  • Deceased December 14, 1994

Date posted as part of this list: February 22, 2019

Othmar Schroeder

Year of birth: 1914

Date of priestly ordination: June 7, 1938 for the Diocese of Indianapolis

Number of credible allegations: 18

Action taken: Priest deceased on February 16, 1988, before abuse was reported

Places served:

  • Associate Pastor, St. Lawrence Church, Lawrenceburg , September 3, 1938
  • Associate Pastor, St. Clement Church, Boonville, June 12, 1940
  • Associate Pastor, St. Joseph Church, Jasper, June 18, 1942
  • Incardinated into the Diocese of Evansville upon its establishment, 1944
  • Ministry to Boy Scouts, 1940s-1960s
  • Pastor, Holy Family Church, Jasper, May 29, 1947
  • Committee on Discipline, Magister Noster School, Evansville, August 23, 1965
  • Pastor, Sacred Heart Church, Schnellville, June 17, 1975
  • Deceased February 16, 1988

Date posted as part of this list: February 22, 2019

Richard Wildeman

Year of birth: 1951

Date of priestly ordination: May 13, 1977

Number of credible allegations: 1; Admitted

Action taken: Left active ministry, May 28, 2002; dispensed from the clerical state, August 17, 2007

Places served:

  • Associate  Pastor, St. Joseph Church, Jasper, June 15, 1977
  • Associate Pastor, St. John Church, Newburgh, September 1, 1977
  • Associate Pastor, St. Matthew Church, Mt. Vernon, July 6, 1979
  • Chaplain, Boy Scouts, August 22, 1979
  • Residence, Faculty House on Lincoln Avenue, Evansville, June 1, 1980
  • Diocesan Director, Youth Ministry, June 1, 1980
  • Weekend assistance, Corpus Christi Church, Evansville, June 1, 1980
  • Weekend assistance, St. Clement Church, Boonville, August 10, 1981
  • Associate Pastor, Holy Family Church, Jasper, August 3, 1982
  • Pastor, St. Mary Church, Sullivan, June 1, 1987
  • Administrator, St. Joan of Arc Church, Jasonville, June 1, 1987
  • Pastor, St. Joseph Church, Vanderburgh County, July 10, 1991
  • Granted permission for ministry in Haiti, June 1, 2000
  • Left active ministry, May 28, 2002
  • Dispensed from the clerical state , August 17, 2007

This diocesan priest pled guilty to receiving child pornography: Jean Vogler. Here are additional details:

Jean Vogler

Year of birth: 1945

Date of priestly ordination: February 28, 1970

Action taken: This priest was charged and convicted in 1996 in the U.S. District Court for Southern Indiana of Receiving Child Pornography and sentenced to 366 days in federal prison. The priest was reinstated to active ministry in 1999 and retired on September 2, 2011. Not in public ministry, February 19, 2019

Places served:

  • Associate Pastor, St. Theresa Church, Evansville, August 22, 1970
  • Associate Pastor, Christ the King Church, Evansville, August 1, 1972
  • Teacher, Reitz Memorial High School, Evansville, September 1, 1975
  • Weekend Assistance, St. James Church, Haubstadt, September 1, 1975
  • Pastor, Holy Redeemer Church, Evansville, July 15, 1980
  • Pastor, St. Mary Church, Sullivan, July 18, 1986
  • Administrator, St. Joan of Arc Church, Jasonville, July 18, 1986
  • Pastor, St. Boniface Church, Evansville, June 1, 1987
  • Pastor, Holy Rosary Church, Evansville, June 27, 1990
  • Residence at Villa Maria on Lincoln Avenue next to Memorial High School, 1998
  • Appointed as chaplain of St. Mary’s Medical Center, Evansville, June 3, 1998 (appointment withdrawn before it became effective)
  • Associate Pastor, Holy Trinity Church, Evansville, April 28, 1999
  • Residence at Villa Maria on Lincoln Avenue next to Memorial High School, September 2004
  • Sacramental Minister, St. Joseph Church, Evansville, September 5, 2007
  • Retired September 2, 2011
  • Not in public ministry, February 19, 2019

These religious order priests that performed ministry in the Diocese of Evansville have allegations determined to be credible of at least one act of sexual abuse of a minor that occurred when the priests were serving in the Diocese of Evansville: Warren Heitz, O.S.B., Robert Woerdeman, O.S.B. Here are additional details:

Warren Heitz, O.S. B.

Year of birth: 1940

Date of priestly ordination: May 1, 1966

Religious order: Benedictine monk, O.S.B.

Number of credible allegations: 2. One allegation first reported to St. Meinrad Archabbey; allegations determined credible by the St. Meinrad Archabbey Review Board

Action taken: St. Meinrad Archabbey has informed the diocese that this priest was removed from public ministry in 2002

Places served in the Diocese of Evansville:

  • Associate Pastor, St. Mary Church, Huntingburg, January 10, 1973
  • Associate Pastor, St. Benedict Church, Evansville, August 23, 1977
  • Administrator, St. John Chrysostom Church, New Boston, July 8, 1987
  • St. Meinrad Archabbey has informed the diocese that this priest was removed from public ministry in 2002

Date posted as part of this list: February 22, 2019

Robert Woerdeman, O.S.B.

Year of birth: 1928

Date of priestly ordination: May 3, 1954

Religious order: Benedictine monk, O.S.B.

Number of credible allegations: 1. Allegation first reported to St. Meinrad Archabbey; determined credible by the St. Meinrad Archabbey Review Board

Action taken: St. Meinrad Archabbey has informed the diocese that this priest was dispensed from his vows and laicized in 1975 and died in 2005

Places served in the Diocese of Evansville:

  • St. Benedict Church, Evansville, August 1960
  • St. Meinrad Archabbey has informed the diocese that this priest was dispensed from his vows and laicized in 1975 and died in 2005

The Diocese also released a statement about Father Raymond Kuper:

The Review Board of the Diocese of Evansville is reviewing allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by the late Father Raymond Kuper, who died in 2012. The allegations became public on Feb. 13 during testimony in the Indiana Senate Judiciary Committee. The diocese reported the allegations to civil authorities immediately after receiving them in August 2018.

Father Kuper served in the following parishes and schools: St. Ferdinand High School, Ferdinand; Rex Mundi High School, Evansville; St. Ferdinand Parish, Ferdinand; St. Theresa Parish, Evansville; Holy Redeemer Parish, Evansville; Christ the King Parish, Evansville; St. Bernard Parish, Rockport; St. Agnes Parish, Evansville; and Holy Rosary Parish, Evansville.

He also served as superintendent of Evansville-area schools, diocesan superintendent of schools and director of Catholic education.

A statement was also sent about the investigation into Father Dave Fleck:

At this time, the investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct involving Father Dave Fleck continues. On Sept. 8, 2018, the Diocese of Evansville placed Father Fleck on administrative leave, which continues, pending the investigation’s completion. While on leave, he is prohibited from all public ministry.

The diocese reported the allegations to civil authorities and notified the Diocesan Review Board. Father Fleck has served in the following parishes and schools: Mater Dei High School, Evansville; Rivet High School, Vincennes; Corpus Christi, Evansville; St. Joseph, Evansville; Sacred Heart, Vincennes; Sts. Peter and Paul, Petersburg; St. Peter, Montgomery, with missions at St. Michael the Archangel and St. Patrick; Blessed Sacrament, Oakland City; St. Philip, Posey County; St. John the Baptist, Vincennes; St. Vincent de Paul, Vincennes; St. Thomas, Vincennes; St. Philip Neri, Bicknell; St. Thomas the Apostle, Vincennes; and St. Francis Xavier, Vincennes. He also resided at St. James, Haubstadt. During his service as Director of Vocations, Father Fleck served at the Outpost Vocations Camp in Spencer County.

A Message from Bishop Joseph M. Siegel:

"Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The tragedy of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy has been in our prayers, hearts and minds in a particularly profound way these past several months since the release of the grand jury report in Pennsylvania.

The heart-wrenching accounts of abuse have reminded us of the pain experienced by victims which can last an entire lifetime. Families, too, experience a deep trauma when a member is victimized.

As Bishop of this Diocese, I ask the forgiveness of those who suffered sexual abuse by members of the clergy, no matter how long ago, as well as of all the people of the Church.

As I offer Mass each day, I pray for victims and their families and for all those whose lives and faith have been impacted by this scandal.

In response to a request by victims and their families, I announced at the end of September that the Diocese would prepare a list of names and current status of priests who had credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors.

The survivors and family members with whom I spoke shared that such a listing would not only help bring healing to their ordeal, but also could be the impetus for other victims to come forward for assistance when they realize they were not the only ones hurt by an offending cleric.

This practice has been followed by many other dioceses, including those in Indiana.

The Diocese already had the names of priest offenders that were published in The Message over the years. However, in order to prepare as complete and accurate a listing as possible, the Diocese hired the services of a private investigator to review all priests’ files, dating back to the founding of the Diocese of Evansville in 1944.

This review process, conducted from this past October to mid-December, entailed going through thousands of pages of material concerning the 240 diocesan priests and 108 religious order and extern priests (priests from other dioceses) who have served in the Diocese over the past 75 years.

All allegations of sexual abuse of minors found in the files were then presented to the Diocesan Review Board for its study, evaluation and recommendations.

This extensive review process has resulted in the listing published today in this paper and on the websites of the Diocese of Evansville and The Message.

As you can read in the report, 10 diocesan priests and 2 priests from religious orders have credible allegations of sexual abuse/misconduct with youth under the age of 18, or with adults who habitually lack the use of reason.

Most of the allegations were already made public in years past in The Message. While recognizing that most of the offenses happened decades ago, we know that the pain of the abuse continues for victims long beyond the event.

It is my prayer that this release of names will not re-traumatize those who have suffered. Parishioners may be shocked to see in this listing the names of priests who served their parishes in the past. I deeply regret the hurt this revelation may cause.

Since 2002, the Church has made progress in addressing clergy sexual abuse of minors. With the implementation of The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and the

Essential Norms, our Diocese and those across our nation have instituted:

-a zero-tolerance policy toward those who abuse;

-prompt reporting of allegations to civil authorities;

-a diocesan review board to examine allegations;

-a victim assistance coordinator to be a liaison between victims and the diocese;

-and youth protection training and background checks for all adults who work with minors.

The Diocese also has in place a rigorous protocol for accepting candidates for the seminary, including thorough psychological testing. As well, seminaries place great priority on the human/emotional formation and evaluation of candidates throughout their preparation for ordination.

I am firmly committed to the strict enforcement of these provisions. While no policy is perfect, these efforts have made a significant difference in preventing abuse of minors in the Church and better responding to victims when abuse is reported.

With the help of God’s grace, we will continue as a Diocese to confront the evil of clergy sexual abuse, recognizing the harm it has caused so many over past decades.

I hope and pray that this release of the names of priest offenders is one more step forward in the process of healing and restoration.

Please continue to pray for all those wounded by this tragedy, especially victims and their families. Please remember as well our priests who faithfully serve the people of this local Church.

Through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, may we always look to Jesus for healing, courage, wisdom and strength – that the Church may be renewed in the Lord’s image and likeness."

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