Teacher Says Church Didn't Respond To Concerns Years Ago

CLEVELAND (AP) - Some employees of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland knew years ago of allegations that a priest molested schoolgirls, but they did nothing about it, a teacher at the school said.

Parents of children at the school told the Rev. A. James Quinn, now the auxiliary bishop of the diocese, about allegations involving the priest, said Cathy Dietz, who was a second-grade teacher at the school.

She said that because the dicoese did not respond, faculty members called a parents meeting in 1969 to discuss how to protect children from the late Monsignor Edward Kickel.

One woman who said she was sexually abused by the priest was denied financial help by the diocese to help her pay for psychological counseling two years ago, a published report said.

Quinn turned her down, saying the diocese couldn't find any facts to support her claim, The Plain Dealer reported Thursday.

The diocese last week said that it interviewed two nuns who were teachers at St. Francis de Sales School and neither could verify allegations that Kickel repeatedly put his hand up the girl's dress.

Quinn, who was diocesan chancellor at the time, said this week through a spokesman that he had "no recollection of anyone coming forward on anything relating to Monsignor Kickel, or any kind of abuse at all at St. Francis de Sales."

Quinn also said he does not remember a meeting about Kickel at the school.

Dietz said at least 200 people attended the meeting.

She said that initially, some parents were angry and offended at the accusations against Kickel. But those attitudes changed after several mothers tearfully described how they had been victimized by Kickel years earlier.

"It would have been impossible for the diocese not to have known about it," Dietz told the newspaper.

Dietz, now a counselor, is a candidate to serve on a diocesan task force created this week to study the church's handling of sex abuse cases, said William Denihan, who will be in charge of the task force.

Dietz said the only obvious result of the parents meeting was that the pastor barred Kickel from hearing confessions and teaching religion classes to elementary school students.

Several other alleged victims said this week that they or their loved ones had been abused in almost identical fashion, The Plain Dealer reported.

Yvonne Grosse, 59, said Kickel would come into a classroom and ask the girls to read from religion texts.

Hidden by a desk from the rest of the students, Kickel would reach under the girls' dresses and molest them, Grosse and other alleged victims said.

"The desk was huge," Grosse said. "Nobody could see what was going on as long as you stood where he wanted you to stand."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)