Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Thursday, July 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Would-Be Priest Fights|Gay-Based Expulsion

COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) - A would-be Roman Catholic priest wants court help after his seminary expelled him over a supposedly "credible accusation of homosexual activity."

The seminarian in question filed the complaint anonymously as John Doe last week in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

He claims he has been a member of the Pontifical College Josephinum's "priestly formation program" since 2010.

Though expected to graduate this May with a master's degree in theology, Doe says the Columbus, Ohio, school sent him packing after an ambush meeting on Oct. 10.

The Rev. Walter Oxley, the school's vice rector and a priest in Toledo, told Doe that his investigation found a "credible accusation of homosexual activity," according to the Dec. 2 action.

Doe says Monsignor Christopher Schreck, the rector-president at the college, attended the meeting as well and voiced his disappointment in Doe.

"Where did it all go wrong," the monsignor asked, before telling the student to "get [his] life in order and to avail [himself] of the sacraments," according to the complaint.

Doe says he was not even allowed to return to his room unescorted after the meeting, told that the seminary would mail him his things.

In addition to concealing its investigation, the school has withheld the identity of Doe's accuser and never asked Doe whether the allegations are true, according to the complaint.

This prevents Doe from mounting a credible defense for an appeal through canon law to Rome.

Doe denies that he violated church rules, and says the school nevertheless tainted his reputation by publicly posting a notice about his expulsion.

Since Schreck had access to Doe's "internal spiritual life" as his spiritual director, his participation in Doe's dismissal also "likely violated canon law," the complaint states.

When the school finally provided Doe with his academic file last month, it withheld "any records related to the investigation of his alleged misconduct and his dismissal," according to the complaint.

Doe redacted its name, but says a certain church was set to hire him after his graduation this spring and ordination as a priest.

Alleging breach of contract, bad faith and other claims, Doe seeks an injunction to view his records under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, plus the return of tuition and fees he paid the seminary.

He is represented by Joshua Engel of Engel and Martin in Mason, Ohio.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.