$5M bond for priest indicted on 9 counts of rape

$5M bond for priest indicted on 9 counts of rape
The Rev. Geoff Drew pleads not guilty in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Wednesday. (Source: FOX19 NOW)

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Bond was set at $5 million Wednesday for a priest charged with raping an altar boy 30 years ago.

The Rev. Geoff Drew, who was arrested Monday, pleaded not guilty to nine counts of rape during a brief bond hearing before Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Leslie Ghiz.

If convicted, he faces life in prison.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced earlier this week Drew raped an alter boy while serving as music minister at St. Jude School in Green Township between 1988 and 1991.

Drew was not a priest at the time, Deters said.

The victim, who is now 41, told authorities the abuse occurred in Drew’s school office after school hours for about two years when he was 10 and 11.

Deters described the victim’s grand jury testimony as compelling, convincing and emotional.

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has said they fully cooperated with the investigation. They released a sequence of events related to Drew.

The priest was put on administrative leave last month.

Archbishop Dennis Schnurr wrote in a letter to the priest’s current parish, St. Ignatius Loyota, that Drew was put on leave “because of reports that he had engaged in a pattern of “grooming” behavior in violation of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Decree on Child Protection.”

“Although the archdiocesan chancery office has received no allegations or evidence of criminal behavior relative to Father Drew, consistent with archdiocesan standard procedure in such matters, all information we received was promptly reported to civil authorities,” Schnurr wrote Aug. 9.

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According to the archdiocese, Drew’s alleged behavior involved pattern of things such as uninvited bear hugs, shoulder massages, patting of the leg above the knee, and inappropriate sexual comments about one’s body or appearance, directed at teenage boys.

In addition, there was a report of Drew texting some of the boys “teasing them about their girlfriends.”

Drew has worked at several parishes and Catholic schools since 1984.

He was ordained a priest in May 2004.

After Drew was placed on leave, church officials have said he previously had been accused of inappropriate behavior involving kids in 2013 and 2015 at St. Maximilian of Kolbe parish in Liberty Township.

Parishioners at St. Ignatius were upset because they were not told about previous complaints against the priest while he was at St. Maximilian.

An auxiliary bishop in the archdiocese, Joseph Binzer, was removed as priest personnel director for failing to disclose to Schnurr and other archdiocese officials previous allegations that Drew engaged in inappropriate behavior with a teenage boy, Catholic News Agency reported earlier this month.

Deters and the Archdiocese have asked anyone with information to contact law enforcement authorities.

“Pedophilia is not something you can be cured from. And it sounds cold but it’s a fact. It wouldn’t surprise me if he had other victims out there,” Deters said.

Drew’s employment and assignment overview:

  • Music Minister at St. Jude Parish: 1984-1999
  • Music Teacher at Elder High School: 1988-1991
  • Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West: 1999-2004
  • Internship year at St. Anthony, Madisonville: 2001-2002
  • Ordained a priest of the Archdiocese: May 2004
  • Parochial Vicar at St. Luke, Beavercreek: July 1, 2004 - June 30, 2005
  • Pastor of St. Rita, Dayton: July 1, 2005 - June 20, 2009
  • Port of St. Maximilian Kolbe , Liberty Township: July 1, 2009 - June 30, 2018
  • Pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Cincinnati: appointed July 1, 2018

Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser said he warned the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in September 2018 to keep Drew away from children and to monitor him.

Gmoser’s office said his office investigated accusations of inappropriate behavior against Drew and found none to be criminal. The alleged behavior involved a pattern with young boys of uninvited hugs, shoulder massages, patting of the leg above the knee and comments, he recalled.

The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office also had a similar case with the same outcome, he said.

Gmoser said he felt Drew was “sexually grooming” the boys for future sexual abuse and he was upset to learn his warning to the archdiocese was not heeded.

“The Archdiocese decided their monitoring would be self-monitoring, as I have come to learn, which made no sense at all,” he said. “How can you monitor yourself? It was stupid, it was a probation department with self-monitoring: ‘I want you to monitor yourself, now go home and behave.’ What kind of monitoring is that?"

Now that the archdiocese has acknowledged they made serious mistake when it came to Drew and is making changes as a result, Gmoser said he is encouraged.

“Acceptance of responsibility is something every prosecutor wants to see in every case. That was encouraging, that type of acknowledgement is something I never heard before,” he said.

“Usually it’s just a matter of them working out a settlement agreement with them denying liability. The problem for the church is if they don’t wrap their hands around this problem, nobody is going to trust the church with their kids and if you can’t trust your church with your kids you’re not going to be going to church.”

We have asked both the archdiocese and Gmoser for a copy of the letter and will update this story once we receive it.

The archdiocese told FOX19 NOW “We are not releasing letters of this nature because it is a personnel conflict."

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