Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Unholy Homicide, Part 2

Sex Abuse by Priest Group?

Map of Ohio with Toledo locator
Map of Ohio with Toledo locator

On a muggy summer day in 2003, a 41-year-old woman went to the downtown headquarters of the Toledo Catholic Diocese for a meeting before the church review board.  The woman, who has yet to be identified and will henceforth be referred to as "Jane Doe," sought reimbursement for more than $50,000 in counseling costs she incurred as an alleged victim of clerical sex abuse.  

When questioned by church officials, Jane Doe said she had been a victim of ritualistic sexual abuse by not one, but an entire group of priests.  These alleged abuses supposedly took place on several occasions, in church basements and rectories.  She described "cult-like ceremonies" and said children were molested and ordered to watch other youngsters being abused.  As the meeting progressed, Jane Doe identified at least four clerics as her abusers.  While her claims sounded ludicrous to the church review board, they did manage to catch the board's attention when it was revealed that one of the men she named had already been ousted from the church after five other women accused him of sexual abuse.

Diocese policy required that an investigation into allegations of abuse would begin in 14 days, but even though there were investigators already working for the Diocese, they were not brought into this case for nearly 8 weeks. During that time, Jane was given the run-around, being told that law enforcement had been contacted when, in fact, it had not.

Eventually, two retired police officers, John Connors and Lawrence Knannlein, looked into her accusations.  For nine months the two men interviewed nearly 50 people involved with the church and also spent several hours interviewing Jane.  She described her allegations in detail, claiming the sexual assaults began when she was a child and involved altars, candles, and chanting.  As the media got wind of the investigation they sought out Connors, who told the Toledo Blade "I had conducted a lot of different investigations for the diocese going back a lot of years, but this was the first time I had ever heard these kinds of stories."

 

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