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Steubenville Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawyer

Diocese of SteubenvilleMany children and young adults are baptized into the Roman Catholic Church based on teachings and edicts to build a strong religious community. These young parishioners are taught to accept the belief of Jesus Christ as their Savior and stay true to their values through the teachings of the Vatican, Pope Francis, bishop, parish priest, and other religious leaders.

Children and young people seek enlightenment to deepen their commitment and use confession to cleanse away their sins. Unfortunately, many clergy members abuse the power they were given by the Catholic Church to harm innocent souls through sexual abuse.

Steubenville Dioceses Sexual Assault Lawyers

The compassionate attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are dedicated advocates for innocent victims sexually assaulted by religious leaders in the Diocese of Steubenville. We ensure our clients’ rights are protected and handle cases in all Ohio counties, including Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Jefferson, Lawrence, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, and Washington.

If you, or a loved one, were the victim of sexual misconduct by a clergy member in an Ohio diocese, contact our law firm today. Let us discuss all your legal options, so you best understand how to move forward. We will listen to your horrific story in a confidential, safe environment.

Our legal team will stand by your side, seek justice, and hold Church officials, predatory priests, and local parish financially and legally accountable. Time is as of the essence. All necessary documents must be filed before the Ohio statute of limitations expires.

US Bishops Finally Take Action to Eliminate Child Sexual Abuse

Recently, the United States Catholic Bishops petitioned the Vatican for additional guidance on how to handle sexual misconduct cases in dioceses throughout the nation, including the Roman Catholic Diocese of Steubenville.

Some reports indicate that nearly four out of every ten Americans recognize that inappropriate sexual conduct by a priest or deacon remains an ongoing problem. These individuals believe that the Catholic Church failed to turn over evidence to civil authorities when accusations of sexually abusing minors are deemed credible.

For well over twenty years, lawsuits involving sexual abuse survivors who were harmed by religious leaders have dominated the headlines. Numerous news articles revealed that Church officials often failed to release the names of clergy with allegations of sexually abusing children.

This devastating practice sheds a terrible light on the world’s largest religious organization. Fortunately, in recent years, many child abuse survivors have stepped forward, taking legal action and filed civil lawsuits against their abuser and the Roman Catholic Church to ensure that all those responsible are held accountable.

The Indicators of Child Sex Abuse are Not Always Apparent

For nearly seven decades, the Roman Catholic Church has faced serious allegations of child sexual abuse that remains a global problem. In recent years, the incident rate of sexual abuse and victimization has shown to be significantly higher in young males compared to underaged girls. Nearly every case involving sexual molestation in the Roman Catholic Church has been perpetrated by a priest, deacon, or other religious leaders that the victim knew.

The Roman Catholic Church rarely notified the local District Attorney’s Office or law enforcement officers of what happened to ensure there is an investigation. Because of that, the indicators of child sex abuse are not always evident to the victim’s family members or friends. Usually, the victim will remain silent because their abuser scared them into silence using intimidation, fear, or personal threats.

However, family members and friends might be able to identify the symptoms of sexual assault in a loved one who displays:

  • Unexpected changes in their emotional and mental behaviors
  • A specific change in their behavior that might involve a diminishing performance at school, outward aggression, or bedwetting
  • Discomfort or pain the victim feels in the genital or anal area
  • Unexplained fear or sense of intimidation when a specific individual is around
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Secret of behaviors
  • Increased sexual interests, especially in young children

Not all signs of sexual assault listed above are proof that the victim was sexually molested. However, if you suspect that sexual molestation occurred, you must take immediate legal action. Speak to Church officials and the local police to discuss what happened. If neither organization provides an immediate response, talk to a personal injury attorney who specializes in sex abuse victimization cases.

Recognize that your loved one may never speak up and discuss the abuse. However, if the child does talk, make sure to give him or her your undivided attention by listening to what they say in a confidential setting. Start the conversation by believing what they say and take steps to validate their accusations through investigation and questioning. Always be their advocate.

Diocese of Steubenville Slow to Comply with Bishop Conference Rules

In 2014, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops enacted rules and regulations that all dioceses and parishes must follow when handling cases of sexual molestation. The Bishops have been working on better regulations for almost twenty years.

Nearly two decades ago, the Diocese of Steubenville failed to protect victims of abusive priests who sexually assaulted their prey. The Church did not run background checks on religious leaders, church workers, and volunteers. They failed to provide employees and educational programs on how to prevent child abuse. At the time, the then Bishop Daniel Conlon stated that the Diocese was working hard on the issue.

However, a spokesman of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) stated there was no excuse for Church officials did not conduct background checks on employees working at Catholic Youth Conferences that attracted minors to the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

New Names Added to the Clergy Abusers List

In 2019, the Steubenville Diocese publicly identified over a dozen religious leaders with credible allegations of sexual misconduct. Church officials had placed sixteen priests on administrative leave and removed them from their active duties.

The additional dozen sexual molesters on their updated list had spent time in the Steubenville Diocese. These twelve publicly identified sexual molesters included:

  • Deacon Rosendo Decal
  • Reverend Carl Peltz
  • Father Bertolucci
  • Reverend Pliauplis
  • Father Schlueter
  • Reverend Maloney
  • Father Tiesi
  • Mark Froehlich
  • Reverend Inghilterra
  • Father Maguire
  • Friar Mulkern
  • Sister Zuccarell

There is limited information from Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton of the Diocese’s Child Protection Review Board that list dates, the names of priests, parishes, and the survivors of sexual abuse.

The sexual abuse advocacy organization believes that publicly revealing any available list of clergy members with credible allegations of sexually assaulting minors could help other survivors to step forward. The updated information could be necessary if the priest or religious leader worked in another community, dioceses, or state at any time during their career.

While the Vatican has worked on provided guidance to the Diocese on what to do when handling sexual molestation cases, it may take decades more before the crisis is resolved.

Hiring a Steubenville Clergy Sexual Abuse Attorney

Our team of abusive injury attorneys understands the tactics the Roman Catholic Church uses to protect their priests and not help their victims. Only recently have Church officials spoken publicly to their parishioners, congregation, local law enforcement, and the public of how there is a sexual assault crisis existing in the parish or diocese.

The sexual molestation injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC understand comprehensive Ohio tort laws that whole religious organizations and predatory priests accountable for their actions. If you are a clergy abuse survivor, harmed by a Diocese of Steubenville religious leader, we can help. Contact us today at (888) 424-5757.

Schedule a no-obligation free, case consultation. Allow us to listen to your story, discuss the merits of your case, and provide various pathways to obtain the financial compensation you and your family deserve.

Our law firm accepts all cases involving any priest, seminarian, deacon, diocesan officials, and other spiritual leaders from any diocese or religious order. Their status can be in “active ministry,” retired from the priesthood, laicized (defrocked), whereabouts unknown, on a leave of absence, or deceased.

List of Clergy Abusers in Steubenville

Bernas, Elwood

Ordained: 1984
In October 2018, the Diocese of Steubenville publicly identified Father Elwood Bernas with credible evidence of sexual misconduct. In 1986, Church officials suspended Reverend Bernas from active ministry.

Current Status: Removed from active ministry


Brown, Robert A.

Ordained: 1939
In 2005, Father Robert A. Brown faced allegations of sexually molesting an underage male in the Church rectory when the boy was staying overnight in 1970. The allegation accuses Reverend Brown of providing alcohol to the boy and a group of other underage males. He is accused of masturbating the victim as a part of the sexual abuse. Allegedly, he sexually molested three of his victim’s cousins at different times. In 2006, the Diocese of Steubenville announced that Church officials received credible evidence that the priest, a lay volunteer, and Mr. Paul Ditto sexually molested an underage minor from 1976 and 1978. In 1984, Father Brown retired from active ministry. The Reverend remains on the October 2018 Diocese of Steubenville and the 2019 Diocese of Columbus list.

Current Status: Died: 1991


Danko, Vincent

Ordained: 1959
In 2018, the Diocese of Steubenville publicly named Father Vincent Danko with credible evidence of sexual molestation of an innocent victim. In 1971, Church officials suspended Reverend Danko from active ministry.

Current Status: Died: 1991


Foxhoven, Christopher

Ordained: 2004
In October 2018, Church officials from the Diocese of Steubenville suspended Father Christopher Foxhoven after he admitted to “sexual contact with an abuse of a minor.” At the time of his suspension, he was pastor at Saint Mary of the Hill Parish, and Holy Cross Church. Reverend Foxhoven acknowledged he had impregnated a seventeen-year-old Holy Cross altar server. Law enforcement arrested and charged Father Foxhoven with a counts of sexual battery. The prosecutor’s handling the case said that the priest had groomed the underage female for three years and began inappropriate sexual conduct in August 2018. Foxhoven pled guilty to the charges and received a twelve year prison sentence in November 2018. The court ordered Foxhoven to register as a sex offender. His name appears on the October 2018 Diocese of Steubenville list. In April 2019, Father Foxhoven appealed his conviction and argued that the length of his sentence in the case was excessive.

Current Status: Arrested and charged


Froehlich, Mark J.

Ordained: 1969
In May 2018, the Diocese of Steubenville read a letter to the congregation at Mass. announcing they had received credible evidence that Father Mark J. Froehlich was involved in inappropriate sexual contact. The Church stated that the priest was removed from active ministry after an alleged sexual assault survivor said she attempted to report the molestation to Church officials since her teen years. However, priests and other religious leaders had told the victim and others that the sexual abuse was her fault. Again, the alleged victim reported what had occurred to others in the Diocese in January 2018. The Reverend denied the allegation. In 1987, Church officials promoted Mark Froehlich to Monsignor. In January 2014, Monsignor Mark Froehlich retired from active ministry. During his career, he was assigned to numerous parishes and served young parishioners at the Cambridge, OH Guernsey Catholic Central High School as an official and teacher between 1972 and 1977. He also served as a chancery official, tribunal judge, and Dean. He worked for the Barnesville, OH Saint Vincent de Paul Society has a financial officer and played prominent role in the local Rotary Club.

Current Status: Retired from active ministry


Goschke, Harold J.

Ordained: 1948
In 2018, the Diocese of Steubenville publicly named Father Harold J. Goschke with credible evidence of sexual molestation of an innocent victim. Official documents reveal that the Roman Catholic Church suspended Reverend Goschke from active ministry in 1957. Other reports indicate that he was placed on a leave of absence from the Diocese of Steubenville after his suspension in 1957. By 1966, he was assigned to multiple Diocese of Stockton parishes where he remained until 1976. By then, he was placed on leave of absence again. Father Goschke’s name appears on a 2018 list from the Stockton Diocese of priests who passed away.

Current Status: Died: 1992


Harris, Kenneth L.

Ordained: 1940
In 2018, the Diocese of Steubenville publicly named Father Kenneth L. Harris with credible evidence of sexual molestation of an innocent victim. Church documents reveal that in 1963, the Roman Catholic Church suspended Reverend Harris from active ministry. Records from 1943 reveal that Harris worked in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1950, when he was placed on a leave of absence before his reassignment to San Bernardino, California, and back to Mississippi in 1951. The Church then placed him on a leave of absence again in 1952. The following year, he remained on a leave of absence from Natchez, Mississippi, during his relocation to the Diocese of Steubenville. The March 2019 Diocese of Jackson, MS list identifies Father Harris with allegations of sexual assault occurring in 1951 in the Steubenville Diocese that were reported to Church officials in 1998 and 2003.

Current Status: Died: 1964


Hellmer, Michael D.

Ordained: 1970
In 2018, the Diocese of Steubenville publicly named Father Michael D. Hellmer with credible evidence of sexual molestation of an innocent victim. Church records dated 1989 note that officials suspended Reverend Hellmer from active ministry.

Current Status: Deceased


Holmes, John “Jack”

Ordained: 1969
In 2018, the Diocese of Steubenville publicly named Father John “Jack” Holmes with credible evidence of sexual molestation of an innocent victim. In 1989, the Steubenville Diocese suspended Reverend Holmes from active ministry.

Current Status: Deceased


Marrer, Robert F.

Ordained: 1950
In 1995, Father Robert F. Marrer faced accusations that he sexually assaulted and raped an underage child between 1967 in 1970. During the time of the alleged sexual assault, the victim was 3 to 6 years old. In 1971, Reverend Father Marrer was placed on a leave of absence. His name appears on the October 2018 Diocese of Steubenville list.

Current Status: Died: 1996


Martinkosky, Joseph A.

Ordained: 1957
In 2018, the Diocese of Steubenville publicly named Father Joseph A. Martinkosky with credible evidence of sexual molestation of an innocent victim. In 1991, Church officials suspended Martinkosky from active ministry.

Current Status: Suspended from active ministry


McGuire, John/Conrad

Ordained: ?
In 2018, the Diocese of Steubenville publicly named Father John/Conrad McGuire with credible evidence of sexual molestation of an innocent victim. The priest is also known as Gather Conrad McGuire and Friar John Maguire. In 1988, the Vatican laicized (defrocked – removed from the priesthood) Maguire.

Current Status: Laicized (removed from the priesthood)


Nadzam, John B.

Ordained: 1950
In April 2009, the Diocese of Steubenville told the congregation that it received substantiated accusations that Father John B. Nadzam had sexually molested an underage child during the 1970s. The Church notified civil authorities. During his career, Reverend Nadzam worked as a teacher at Catholic Central High School and was assigned to several parishes. His name appears on the October 2018 Steubenville Diocese’s list with notations that he was suspended from active ministry in the Roman Catholic Church in 2004.

Current Status: Died: 2005


O’Donnell, Henry B.

Ordained: 1949
In December 2005, Father Henry B. O’Donnell faced allegations that he sexually assaulted an underage female in Washington DC in 1950. The victim’s mother allegedly discovered the priest forcibly kissing her daughter and touching her genitals and breasts underneath her clothes. At the time of the alleged assault, Father O’Donnell was working as a chancellor or diocesan secretary. After O’Donnell’s promotion from priest to Monsignor, he continued to sexually molest the girl when she was eighteen years old. The victim accused the Reverend of verbal abuse in a sexual manner when she was twenty-seven years old. At the time of that alleged assault, Monsignor O’Donnell was assigned to the Church as a Vicar General.

Current Status: Accused of sexual misconduct


Peltz, Carl Anthony

Ordained: 1977
Allegations arose concerning Father Carl Anthony Peltz that in 1985, the priest forced his twelve-year-old victim to drink whiskey before he raped him. The alleged incident took place in Iceland when Reverend Peltz was a Navy chaplain. In 1991, a federal lawsuit alleged that Church officials at the Diocese of Steubenville should have known that the Reverend had a drinking problem. However, the Church still certified Peltz as fit for service. In 1993, the Steubenville Diocese agreed to a negotiated settlement for $25,000. In 2003, the Diocese of Kalamazoo Review Board “exonerated” Father Carl Peltz citing it could not find credible evidence. Peltz served the United States as a Navy chaplain starting in 1983 for seven years. In 1990, the priest was incardinated (assigned to a diocese) the diocese of Kalamazoo.

Current Status: Died: 2015


Plimmer, Walter

Ordained: 1934
In 2018, the Diocesan Order publicly named Father Walter Plimmer with credible evidence of sexual molestation of an innocent victim. Before his ordination into the Roman Catholic Church, Plimmer worked on Broadway as an actor. During his career, he served as a US Army chaplain and was associated with the Society of Saint Sulpice. From 1946 until 1947, the priest was assigned to the Baltimore, MD St. Mary Seminary. By 1948, he is listed as working for the Steubenville Diocese and likely left the Saint Sulpice Order. Church documents reveal that officials suspended Reverend Plimmer.

Current Status: Deceased


Rothbauer, Francis J. (Frank)

Ordained: 1966
In 1988, Church officials removed Father Francis J. (Frank) Rothbauer from active ministry. The following year, a filed civil lawsuit revealed allegations that Reverend Rothbauer sexually molested a child from 1968 until 1972. The alleged abuse began when the girl was fourteen years of age during counseling. Allegedly, in 1972, Steubenville Diocese Bishop Musdio learned of Rothbauer‘s inappropriate sexual contact and reassigned the priest to another parish. The Reverend’s name appears on the October 2018 Diocese of Steubenville list with notations that Church officials that suspended him from active ministry in 1998.

Current Status: Died: 2011


Samuel, Tiesi

Ordained: 1963
In 2018, the Diocese of Steubenville publicly named Father Tiesi Samuel with credible evidence of sexual molestation of an innocent victim.

Current Status: Died: 2001


Wright, Joel A

Ordained: ?
In 2016, federal law enforcement officials arrested Seminarian Joel A Wright and charged the religious leader was seeking to travel to Mexico to adopt multiple infant girls to sexually molest. At the time of his arrest, he was a Columbus, OH Pontifical College Josephinum seminarian. Court documents reveal that, in 2014, the seminarian attempted to adopt an infant from Mexico. Wright’s mother, when speaking to the news media, indicated that at least forty religious orders and dioceses rejected his application to attend before he was admitted to the Pontifical College. Officials of the College dismissed Seminarian Wright after he was arrested. In February 2016, Wright pled not guilty to the charges in US District Court. In April that year, he accepted a plea agreement to reduce the charges and pled guilty. In July 2016, Wright received a sixteen-year federal prison sentence followed by a lifetime of supervision. Wright ‘s name appears on the 2018 Diocese of Steubenville list.

Current Status: Arrested and charged


Zalenski, Gary

Ordained: 1977
In 2007, Church officials at the Diocese of Steubenville suspended Father Gary Zalenski after credible allegations arose that he sexually assaulted an underage female from 1989 until 1991. At the time the alleged assault, the victim was 9 to 11 years old while Reverend Zalenski was working in Lore City, Ohio. The victim told Church officials and her parents what happened. Afterward, the Roman Catholic Church transferred Father Zalenski out of his parish. The priest denied the accusations. The case was referred to the local District Attorney’s Office and the Vatican. In October 2008, the Grand Jury cited a lack of probable cause as the reason it did not indict the priest. That same month, a second allegation arose from another victim. An attorney working on Father Zalenski’s behalf threatened the second victim with a civil lawsuit if she spoke publicly. In January 2009, the second woman filed a civil lawsuit to have his records release. In July 2010, the Ohio Supreme Court ordered the lower court to release the priest’s records. Documents reveal that Church officials had sent Father Zalenski to three separate treatment centers. In 2014, the Vatican laicized (defrocked – removed from the priesthood) Zalenski. The priest’s name appears on the 2018 Diocese of Steubenville list.

Current Status: Laicized (removed from the priesthood)

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