An agreement was reached yesterday in Toledo Municipal Court to keep former priest Chet Warren from entering Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church.
The unusual court action resolves a civil complaint filed by the Toledo Diocese against Mr. Warren in December over concerns raised by some Blessed Sacrament parishioners.
The consent judgment, which was approved by Judge Robert Christiansen, forbids Mr. Warren from going into the church and neighboring parochial elementary school on Bellevue Road near Bowman Park.
It also says Mr. Warren could be found in contempt of the judgment and subject to a fine or other sanctions if he violates the agreement.
Mr. Warren, a former member of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, was barred from ministry over allegations of child abuse. At least eight women have accused Mr. Warren of abusing them when they were children.
He and his attorney, Martin Mohler, appeared in court yesterday to attend a scheduled pretrial hearing in the case. Also present in the courtroom were the Rev. Michael Billian, episcopal vicar of the diocese, and Thomas Pletz, attorney for the diocese.
However, Judge Christiansen ordered the proceeding moved from the public courtroom into his chambers after reporters and a photographer appeared in the courtroom.
The parties met for several hours behind closed doors. After Mr. Warren and the attorneys emerged from the proceeding, a three-page consent judgment signed by Mr. Warren was filed with the court.
The complaint against the ex-priest alleged that he violated an agreement he made with the pastor of Blessed Sacrament parish that limited his access to the church's Eucharistic Chapel. He was only allowed to visit the chapel before 6 a.m. and was required to be accompanied by an adult male.
Claudia Vercellotti, a local coordinator of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said the diocese should have taken steps to prosecute Mr. Warren for violating the earlier agreement.
She said she believes the agreement will do little to alleviate the concerns of parishioners who called attention to Mr. Warren's frequent visits to the chapel. "We are trying to assure that no other children are sexually molested again,'' she said. "This will not protect children from being abused."
In March, 2005, Bishop Leonard Blair apologized to one of Mr. Warren's victims, Teresa Bombrys, from the pulpit of St. Pius X Catholic Church, also in West Toledo, for the "grievously sinful and criminal acts" that he committed.
The diocese also asked for damages not to exceed $5,000. However, the agreement says the costs of the action will be paid by the diocese.
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