Church Severs Ties With Man Accused Of Molesting Child

March 18th, 2011 by Staff

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Diocese of Orlando has severed its ties with a longtime Catholic church leader who it said admitted to sexually molesting a boy.
Members of a sex abuse survivor’s network came after Music Director Robert Schaefer, a 25-year employee of the St. James Cathedral, after his former victim came to Orlando to confront him.
The diocese said Schaefer has never been charged with sex abuse and he has passed every background check he’s been given.
“I was sexually abused by Bob Schaefer,” said Billy Kirchen. “It’s too late for me now, I can’t turn the clocks back. I can’t be 12 anymore. That’s done.”
Kirchen said Schaefer molested him at a Catholic school in Milwaukee more than 30 years ago.
Schaefer moved to Orlando in 1985 and he’s worked around kids as music director at St. James Cathedral ever since. Kirchen said he traveled to Orlando to deliver a letter to the diocese and expose Schaefer’s past.
“He needs to be removed from what he’s doing,” said Kirchen.
“God forbid, there may be children abused since then,” said Joe McMorrow, from Orlando’s Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Kirchen said he reported the abuse in 1982 and again three years ago to law enforcement and the Milwaukee Diocese, but Schaefer has never been charged.
“They questioned him. He admitted to doing it and was set free,” said Kirchen.
Kirchen said Schaefer sent an apology letter to him a few years ago, saying he’s sorry for any harm his actions caused. Kirchen said living with the abuse has been painful.
“For many years I had a lot of anger and rage inside of me,” Kirchen said. “It really devastates you mentally, emotionally and spiritually.” Church officials said they confronted Schaefer immediately after receiving the letter and he admitted to the abuse. The Orlando Diocese said it’s never received any sexual abuse complaints against Schaefer but said he violated their trust and removed him from his position.
“Children become safer today,” said McMorrow.
Church officials said every church in the diocese is sending an e-mail to parishioners about Schaefer, asking other victims to come forward and report possible abuse.


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