Cincinnati priest Geoffrey Drew has pleaded not guilty in his initial court appearance in connection with the alleged rape of a boy 30 years ago.
A judge set his bond at $5 million.
Drew was indicted Monday on nine counts of raping the child at St. Jude School, where he was the music minister at the time.
Through his lawyer, Drew said he had no idea who his accuser was or how he would have come in contact with him.
Quoting Brandon Moermond, who represented him during the arraignment, “Obviously, we vigorously deny the charges. Father Drew has no criminal history. The allegations have been investigated by at least two other counties.”
That was a reference to Butler and Montgomery County investigations.
Moermond was Drew’s lawyer for the Butler County probe, which found no criminal evidence of inappropriate behavior.
The lack of knowledge at St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish about those previous investigations caused an uproar of concern this summer and lead to Drew’s removal as pastor there last month.
Whether it’s Elder High School, where Drew was a music teacher for three years, or St. Ignatius of Loyola, where he was a pastor since July of 2018. The places where Drew worked have been instructed to route all media inquiries to the archdiocese.
A spokesperson there told us meetings have been discussed, but no decisions have been made about holding them at the various schools and churches.
Dan Frondorf, a survivor of abuse by a local priest and a west side principal when he was 17, has publicly called for Archbishop Marion Schnurr to personally visit each place where Drew worked.
Prosecutor Joe Deters and Schnurr have both issued public statements asking anyone with information to contact law enforcement authorities.
“So, if Schnurr took the effort to personally go to each parish, each school, each assignment that Drew had, it would send a message that we indeed take it seriously,” Frondorf said. “Now they had some missteps with Drew, and they’ve admitted that. But, it would go a long way in the healing process.”
Frondorf can relate to the decades of silence spent by the man who has accused Drew of raping him as a boy.
Frondorf kept quiet about his own experience for 20 years.
He told us he was pleased to learn that the survivor went right to the police to finally report the past abuse and not to the church first.
“The police really are the best entity to deal with this type of thing because it’s a crime, it’s a felony.”
As Mike Noyes of Over-the-Rhine, headed into midday Mass at St. Peter-in-Chains Cathedral, a daily ritual for him, he expressed an unshaken faith despite the allegations that will now play out in a court of law.
“You’re always dismayed to hear that because the priests are up, sermons and homilies, tellin’ you about how to live your life and then they have some secret lives,” Noyes commented. “So, we get very disappointed by that.”
Karen Schultz and her husband ventured down from Mt. Adams for the weekday Mass and have similarly not let any of this cause their faith to lessen. Although she, too, voiced disappointment about how the church has handled it.
“I think it’s important to have the ushers in the church not be touching people,” she responded when asked what steps she would like the archdiocese to take. “I think everybody’s hyper-sensitive about that. I don’t like that. I would like to see the church come out and be very public about it.”
She said trust needs to be rebuilt.
Trust in the legal system will be tested anew in the case against Drew.
It may largely rest on the testimony of one man who claims he was raped as a boy three decades ago.
Deters described his grand jury testimony as compelling and convincing.
Whether any other accusations surface between now and the court trial is something investigators are wondering. Now that a list of Drew’s work history has been distributed publicly.