Nebraska authorities launched the investigation and created a victim hotline in 2018 after several accusers came forward with allegations against the conservative Lincoln Diocese, which for years was the only U.S. diocese that refused to participate in annual reviews of sexual misconduct. The reviews were a key reform enacted in response to the 2002 Boston clergy abuse scandal.
Some of the allegations in Lincoln were against the Rev. James Benton, an elderly priest who only retired in 2017 even though church leaders had known about abuse accusations against him for at least 15 years.
Benton’s nephew, Lincoln chiropractor Stan Schulte, said his uncle molested him at a rectory sleepover in the early 1990s when he was a boy.
Another Lincoln man, Jeffrey Hoover, reported a similar experience with Benton during a camping trip in the early 1980s while he and the priest slept in the same bed. Schulte has said he probably never would have been molested if church officials had handled Hoover’s allegations against Benton properly.
Schulte, who attended Thursday’s news conference and has pushed for accountability in the church, said he doesn’t believe the church’s current leaders have done enough to protect the public and that they should be removed from their posts. He said one credibly accused priest has been allowed to live in the Bonacum House in Lincoln, a home for retired priests that’s a short walk from both a public and a private elementary school.
He said another credibly accused priest was assigned to a home in Cedar Bluffs, Nebraska, next to a Boy Scout camp, and that the church isn’t monitoring him and didn’t tell the public.
Schulte said another church official in Omaha has also been accused of engaging in a gay orgy with a subordinate, although no minors were involved in that incident.
“If this were to happen in the public school system, and a principal knew for decades that there were teachers abusing children and refused to act, that principal would be asked to step down immediately,” Schulte said. “If the current leadership doesn’t step down, we’re very naive to think that there will ever be any real change.”
This article originally appeared here.