Former priest and convicted sex offender resigns from church board
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Archdiocese of Louisville is taking a huge step admitting that a Louisville parish allowed a convicted rapist to serve on a volunteer board. On Feb. 15, we reported a new addition to a lawsuit against the church filed by a whistleblower. Those new developments have lead to a volunteer on a parish council, who is also a former priest, to resign.
Bruce Ewing, a former priest and a convicted sex offender, has been active on the parish council at St. Therese Church in Germantown until Feb. 15. SNAP, or the Survivors Network of hose Abused by Priests, are demanding answers for what they call an "irresponsible" move by the church.
"Catholic officials are notorious at keeping good records and it's ludicrous that they act like it's some complex process to find out who is or isn't on a parish council," said Louisville SNAP director Colleen Powell.
Ewing's 2007 trial drew extensive publicity. His conviction involved a sexual relationship while he was a priest with a 15-year-old girl back in the 1970s. Ewing, who left active ministry in 1977, is now serving a sentence of five years probation.
According to a statement from the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ewing has been a member of St. Therese Church for some time. In recent years, he became involved as a volunteer on the parish council. Ewing's position at the church, all while being a registered sex offender, angers abuse survivors. Outside the Archdiocese of Louisville office on East College Street, Powell, who is also a victim of priest sexual abuse, is speaking out and looking for answers.
"If he is a member of the parish council, he's at fish fry's, he's at bingo, he's at celebrations within the church that children are going to be at," said Powell.
Ewing is now part of an expanding lawsuit filed by a Louisville couple Margie and Gary Weiter. Margie, the former bookkeeper at St. Therese, says she was fired for "blowing the whistle" on a priest accused of sexual abuse, James Schook, who was suspended from ministry.
Schook moved to the St. Therese rectory on Schiller Avenue in 2009. The Weiter's say he was around children without supervision. The lawsuit now names Ewing, who was part of the parish council.
The Archdiocese says Ewing's addition to the lawsuit prompted him to resign Tuesday. Cecelia Price, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese, released the following statement:
"All employees and volunteers who work with children in Catholic parishes and schools must undergo background checks and participate in training. In Mr. Ewing's case, it was assumed that since he was not working with children, his volunteer service on the parish council was acceptable. Per our sexual abuse policies, this is not correct and will not continue."
"This situation at St. Therese is layer upon layer upon layer of mismanagement and deceit and there is no place for that in the church," said Powell.
Ewing was formally dismissed from priesthood in 2004. We attempted to reach him at his home, but he was not there. Messages left on his phone have not been returned. We even stopped by at his job, but were told he has no comment.
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