DETROIT -- A former Toledo diocesan priest, who was sued and defrocked after "substantiated" allegations that he sexually abused young boys in the 1980s, has been working recently in the music ministry of a Detroit parish, according to a victims' advocacy group.
About a half-dozen members of SNAP -- the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests -- protested outside the Detroit archdiocesan headquarters Thursday afternoon.
The group delivered a letter to Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron accusing the church of "recklessness and secrecy" for allowing Herbert Richey, Jr., to work at St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church in the Detroit suburb of St. Clair Shores.
The former priest reportedly also plays piano or organ at Sunday Masses at Marygrove College in Detroit.
SNAP called on the archbishop to conduct an investigation into how Mr. Richey was hired at a Catholic parish, and to discipline those responsible.
Mr. Richey, 60, a native of Crestline, Ohio, was ordained in 1978 and worked as a priest at parishes in Findlay, Sandusky, Mansfield, Vermilion, and Wakeman, Ohio, before leaving the ministry May 31, 1992, in the wake of the allegations. Church officials have acknowledged up to seven victims.
He was removed from the clerical state, or defrocked, by the Vatican in 1997.
The late Toledo Bishop James Hoffman said in 2002 the diocese settled cases out of court on behalf of Mr. Richey but declined to elaborate, saying those settlements were confidential.
From 1994 to 1996, Mr. Richey worked as an organist and musical director of St. Michael the Archangel Church in North Toledo, where parishioners were not informed of his past.
From 1996 to 2002, Mr. Richey was an organist, musical director, and school choir director at St. Joseph Parish in Trenton, Mich., where the congregation also was not told of Mr. Richey's background.
Ned McGrath, director of communications for the Detroit archdiocese, said in a statement Thursday that when the archdiocese learned in 2002 that Mr. Richey had been working at the Trenton parish, it "immediately removed Mr. Richey and ordered him not to work in any of its parishes or schools."
Mr. McGrath said after learning that the ex-priest has been working at St. Margaret and possibly other parish locations, "the Archdiocesan Review Board will commence an investigation of this matter with the intention of assuring this unacceptable situation does not happen again."
The Toledo diocese lists Mr. Richey as one of two laicized priests against whom allegations of child sexual abuse were "investigated and have been found not only to be credible but substantiated."
David Clohessy, national president of SNAP, said that it was troubling that Mr. Richey continues to be employed at Catholic parishes despite "substantiated" allegations.
"There seem to be only two real possibilities. One is that despite all the promises by the church hierarchy, they don't in fact do the simple background checks they say they do. The other possibility, which is even more frightening, is that church staff do know and choose to hire him anyway," Mr. Clohessy said.
SNAP said it was alerted to Mr. Richey's work at St. Margaret's by "a concerned Detroit-area Catholic."
Contact David Yonke at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6154.
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