LPD joins investigation into misconduct allegations in Lincoln Diocese

Posted By: Bayley Bischof 

bbischof@klkntv.com 

Several people have accused priests in the Lincoln Diocese of misconduct, leading to three priests being removed.

Now, the Lincoln Police Department and Lancaster County Attorney’s Office are joining Attorney General Doug Peterson in the investigation of those clergy members.

"Our criminal investigations unit will investigate all incidents and work with county attorney to prosecute any offenders,” Lincoln Police Officer Angela Sands said.

County Attorney Pat Condon said the diocese is cooperating with the investigation.

"Bishop Conley been very forthcoming with us and the police,” Condon said.

Condon, Bishop James Conley and Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister met last month to discuss the allegations.

Conley asked that all reports of abuse go through the child abuse hotline, law enforcement and then the diocese, Condon said.

"Between three and five reports have come in, but this request just came out it’s going to take time,” Condon said.

So far in the Lincoln Diocese region, three priests have been placed on leave because of allegations.

Father Charles Townsend was removed from St. Peter’s church in Lincoln after being accused of having an inappropriate, but non–sexual relationship with a 19–year–old altar boy.

Father Patrick Barvick, who was at St. Mary’s church in Davey was removed after he was allegedly alone with females after he was warned not to be.

Father Scott Courtney, a parishioner in Adam’s county was removed after he was accused of having a sexual relationship with an adult woman, who was not a parishioner.

A fourth father in Exeter resigned over an undisclosed incident that happened while he was in the Nebraska Army National Guard.

Two inactive priests from the Lincoln diocese have also been accused of sexual abuse, one is retired, the other is dead.

Condon said they requested records for the last 40 years because that will show them incidents still within the statute of limitations.

The Omaha and Grand Island dioceses are also being investigated.

The Lincoln Diocese wouldn’t comment as the investigation is ongoing, but in a statement said they will support all efforts to stop this criminal behavior and ask victims to report abuse.

They’ve also made resources available to help victims report anonymously and recover from the trauma of abuse on their website.

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Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister and the Lancaster County Attorney Pat Condon met with Pat Conley in August about criminal allegations directed toward staff with the Lincoln Diocese, the department said in a release.

The department said they are working with the the Lancaster County Attorney and the Nebraska Attorney General’s office on this investigation to investigate past and present criminal misconduct within the diocese. The criminal investigations unit will investigate all incidents, and said in a release they will work with the County Attorney to prosecute offenders. 

The release said offenses that may have happened outside the city of Lincoln will be investigated by the Attorney General’s Office. 

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