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Jefferson City priest placed on leave

Jefferson City priest placed on leave

March 16th, 2019 by the News Tribune news@newstribune.com in Local News

A Catholic priest in Jefferson City has been placed on administrative leave while alleged boundary violations with minors at Immaculate Conception Church and School are investigated.

Information was shared with parishioners and students’ families this week regarding the Rev. Geoffrey Brooke, associate pastor at Immaculate Conception Church.

In a letter to Immaculate Conception School families dated March 10, Bishop Shawn McKnight of the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City stated the diocese had received allegations of violations involving Brooke. He wrote the diocese had notified the Missouri Children’s Division hotline and Brooke may not function publicly as a priest while on leave.

The letter was shared with the News Tribune by a community member, and Director of Diocesan Communications Helen Osman confirmed its authenticity.

“This does not mean there is a determination of guilty or if the allegations are credible,” McKnight noted in the letter.

McKnight said the Diocesan Review Board will receive information relevant to these allegations and update McKnight with its recommendation on what should happen with Brooke.

The Diocesan Review Board, established in 2003 to advise the bishop on accusations of sexual abuse of a minor made against a cleric, includes three diocese staff members and 17 appointed members including attorneys, counselors, educators, pastors, pediatricians, psychiatrists, and law enforcement and social services professionals, according to information on the diocese’s website. It is chaired by the diocesan chancellor, Sister Kathleen Wegman.

McKnight appointed the Rev. Joshua Duncan as part-time associate pastor for Immaculate Conception parish, effective Monday. Duncan is listed on the diocese’s website as having been associate pastor at St. Joseph Cathedral in Jefferson City, as well as part-time chaplain at Helias Catholic High School and assistant diocesan vocation director.

McKnight added in his letter the diocese had made therapeutic services available to the families of the school and parish as well as Brooke.

According to a Wednesday letter to parents from Immaculate Conception School Principal Heather Schrimpf, a meeting was held with all middle school students and teachers that included Sister Elizabeth Youngs, superintendent of Catholic schools for the diocese, and Nancy Hoey, victims coordinator for the diocese.

The intent of the meeting was said to have been “in response to the concerns shared among students.” Administrators reportedly told students the school was safe and they shouldn’t be afraid to talk to an adult. McKnight’s letter also was shared with the students.

Osman said the diocese continues to work with authorities in their investigation.

“When there is information pertinent to the larger community, we will be providing that to the media,” Osman said.

Brooke was ordained a priest in 2015 and also serves as parochial vicar for the diocese, according to the diocese’s website.