New allegation is made against former OKC priest
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City has received what it has deemed to be another credible allegation of child sexual abuse involving a former archdiocese priest, a spokeswoman said Friday.
In a letter dated Nov. 14, an individual reported that an incident of child sexual abuse occurred in the early 1970s involving former priest Benjamin Zoeller while he was assigned to Our Lady's Cathedral in Oklahoma City, said Diane Clay, the archdiocese's communications director.
"As painful as this is to hear, we made a commitment to be more transparent with information received by the archdiocese related to child sexual abuse and releasing this statement is a part of that effort," Clay said.
Clay said the archdiocese's victim assistance coordinator has made contact with the individual who reported the incident.
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She said the archdiocese, at Archbishop Paul S. Coakley's request, is reviewing Zoeller's priest file as part of a comprehensive review by an independent firm, McAfee & Taft.
Zoeller was removed as a priest in 2002 and was laicized — or formally defrocked — in 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI.
The letter alleging abuse is the second received by the archdiocese concerning Zoeller in recent months. In August, archdiocese leaders received a letter from a former parishioner whose family had alleged Zoeller had sexually molested him when he was a teenager in the 1980s.
In conducting an investigation into the August letter, the archdiocese learned that Zoeller had been volunteering once a week at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in south Oklahoma City and took steps to prevent him from doing so at any archdiocese entity.