By Shelley Grieshop
A Versailles priest has rejoined his parish following an investigation by church officials into two sexual abuse claims against him.
The Rev. David Vincent, 67, returned Monday to active ministry at his home parish in Versailles after an independent review board found no evidence to substantiate an abuse claim against him.
"I like coming back," Vincent said Wednesday in a phone interview from his parish office. "It feels good to be back in the ministry again."
Vincent, pastor of St. Denis in Versailles and Holy Family in Frenchtown, jointly celebrated All Saints Day Eve Mass on Monday with Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati at the Versailles church with Frenchtown parishioners present, also.
In March, Vincent was placed on administrative leave after a man reported to the Archdiocese's Victim Compensation Fund that he was abused by Vincent during a Latin class at Elder High School around 1970. The archdiocese claims to have no records showing the alleged abuse was ever reported to them. An earlier claim was lodged against Vincent in March 2004 by a man who alleged Vincent sexually abused him in the 1980s. That allegation was reported to civil authorities (in a lawsuit), but the alleged victim did not cooperate with the investigation and Vincent remained in active ministry in Versailles.
No information was available on the outcome of the lawsuit.
Although the abuse claims against Vincent were found to be without merit by Pilarczyk's Archdiocesan Child Protection Review Board, the archdiocese's Victim's Fund Committee agreed to compensate the alleged victim(s) in an amount not released.
The Victim's Fund Committee -- made up of an attorney, a judge, a retired judge and a Xavier University professor -- concluded that accusations claiming Vincent "had sexually abused minors were plausible enough to warrant compensation."
The archdiocese stated that Vincent had not admitted guilt, and the action to award the complainant (s) "is not to be taken as a presumption of guilt." The purpose of the fund is to compensate and reconcile with victims, not to establish guilt or innocence, the archdiocese states.
However, the archdiocese statement also continues that the findings by a panel (Victim's Fund Committee) of such "highly respected legal professionals gives the accusations the semblance of truth."
Vincent, a Diocesan priest who was ordained in May 1964, has been head pastor at the Versailles parish since July 2001.
On Wednesday, he spoke only briefly about the last several months away from his parishes and chose not to discuss either allegation made against him. His only comment about the earlier abuse claim was, "that was a very long time ago. I don't remember that student and probably wouldn't recognize him if I saw him today."