TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - The Catholic community in Toledo is shocked after a confession letter found after a former St. Francis de Sales priest died revealed the priest admitted sexual misconduct.
Now church leaders are hoping there are no other victims.
Father Ken McKenna, of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, says after he found the letter from Father James Roth confirming the allegations, he spent the next two weeks visiting other families who might have been close to Fr. Roth to make sure there were no other victims.
Now he has a message: If you've been a victim of abuse from any member of the Catholic Church, please come forward.
"When an allegation comes in, it allows us to respond and offer help. We do keep the information private," Fr. McKenna said.
The allegations were made in January, stating that 14 years ago, a young man who was a family friend of Fr. Roth's had been abused by him.
Fr. Ken McKenna says he immediately removed Roth from his ministry.
Four days later, Fr. Roth was found unresponsive after taking too much insulin, and he died on February 11th.
"After the funeral, they called me and said, 'You can come and get his belongings, including a note he left for you,'" Fr. McKenna said. "And it was confidential, it was labeled, and I read it, and in that, he did say that he was guilty of the allegation."
A review board confirmed the allegations were true.
That's when Fr. McKenna went out to speak to other families who were close with Fr. Roth, and also visited with the victim.
"The original person who came forward invited me to meet him and his girlfriend, and he was very gracious," he said. "It was a chance for me to apologize, to thank him for coming forward. He did the right thing."
Fr. McKenna is asking that if anyone else was a victim of abuse, to report it.
So far, no other victims have come forward.
If you or someone you know has been sexually abused by an Oblate, call 419-724-9851 or visit http://www.tdprovince.org/
"I want to apologize to anyone who has ever been injured, physically or emotionally, by any member of our congregation. We wish to help those in pain and we reaffirm our desire to play a role in the healing process," Fr. McKenna said in a statement.