Allen Still Battling Church
Seeks Records on Abuse by Priests

By John Nolan
Associated Press, carried in Cincinnati Post [Ohio]
Downloaded May 28, 2003

One of the few county prosecutors with the staff to take on reluctant church officials says he is determined to pursue allegations of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen expected his investigation to be over by now, but no end is in sight.

"We're dealing with an archdiocese which wants to fight us at every turn," Allen said Tuesday. "It's not going to deter us. We're going to get to the bottom of this."

Allen has been fighting the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for months over which documents the archdiocese will release.

The Cincinnati archdiocese said it gave all the documents it can legally release to Allen's office, except those that are covered by attorney-client privilege. A state appeals court is to hear the dispute on July 28.

By contrast, Cuyahoga County prosecutors said cooperation from the Cleveland Diocese enabled them to conclude most of their investigation by December. The probe there involved 29 of the office's 143 prosecutors, who examined 40,000 diocesan documents and 10,000 state records and interviewed more than 30 diocesan employees, plus alleged victims.

Allen said he and nine staff prosecutors have reviewed thousands of documents in the past year.

In March, a Hamilton County grand jury indicted a former Cincinnati archdiocese priest, George Cooley, who had served jail time in 1991 for molesting boys, and current priest Kenneth Schoettmer, who was placed on leave in 2001 after acknowledging sexual encounters with three male teens.

Other prosecutors in the 19-county Cincinnati archdiocese, with smaller staffs than Allen's corps of 130 prosecutors, are relying on Allen to lead the investigation.

Allen has promised to share with them any evidence related to their counties.

Miami County Prosecutor Gary Nasal said he has received no abuse allegations involving Catholic church employees in his county just north of Dayton. Nasal, with five staff attorneys, said he accepted Allen's offer to refer any pertinent evidence.

"I don't feel it necessary to retrace the steps he's taken," Nasal said. "Obviously, it would place an extreme strain on our resources."

Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias Heck Jr. followed Allen's lead and subpoenaed archdiocese records, although Heck said he knew of no specific allegations in the Dayton area.

Prosecutors in rural counties such as Clinton and Clermont said they have handled no allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

Most of the allegations authorities receive cannot be prosecuted because they occurred so long ago that statutes of limitations have run out, officials said.

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