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Carmel priest suspended amid allegations of inappropriate conduct with minor

Catholic Diocese in Ohio releases names of clergy accused of sexual abuse
Posted at 4:10 PM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 13:40:03-04

CARMEL — A priest has been suspended from a Carmel church after it was alleged he engaged in inappropriate conduct with a minor.

Fr. James De Oreo was officially suspended from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish last Friday after the allegations were reported to the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana, according to Gabby Hlavek, the Diocese's director of communications.

The allegations have been reported to the Indiana Child Protective Services, Hlavek said.

"A preliminary investigation is ongoing, and precautionary measures are in place according to Canon 1722 of the Code of Canon Law. During the investigation, Father De Oreo should be treated with the presumption of innocence," the Diocese said in a statement.

De Oreo was ordained in 2018, according to Hlavek.

The Diocese is asking anyone who is aware of possible misconduct involving De Oreo to come forward.

Reports can be made to Child Protective Services 800-800-5556 or local law enforcement. People can also call Jackie Montrie, the Diocese's victim assistance coordinator, at 765-464-4988.

"We all share a commitment to be part of the Church’s mission to respect and protect people of every age. We invite you to join us in prayer for the healing guidance of the Holy Spirit on behalf of all who have been victims of abuse," the Diocese said.

De Oreo has not been criminally charged. DCS informed Carmel police of a report submitted to their agency, but there are no reported victims at this time, Lt. Tim Byrne said in an email to WRTV.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said they are thankful for those who came forward.

"Fr. De Oreo became ordained as a priest in 2018 and worked for St. Alphonsus Liguori Catholic Church in Zionsville before moving to Our Lady of Mount Carmel which has a grade school of approximately 600 students," the statement read. "We call on church officials to use pulpit announcements, parish websites, and other diocesan outreach tools to ensure parents and parishioners at each of these locations are informed of the allegations against Fr. De Oreo. Additionally, it is incumbent upon the Diocese of Lafayette to fully disclose the work history of Fr. De Oreo up to now and including his work as a seminarian."

Zionsville police Capt. Drake Sterling told WRTV it hasn't participated in any investigation related to this case.

SNAP is encouraging others who may have information about other abuses from clergy members to talk with authorities.

"Fr. De Oreo was ordained in 2018 and may already have other victims. Because of the reality of delayed disclosure in cases of sex crimes, it is likely that other potential victims might take decades to come forward," the statement read. "It is rare that an abuser has just one victim. Similarly, we hope that the example of this brave survivor will encourage others who were hurt in Indiana to come forward and get help."

WRTV Senior Digital Content Producer Andrew Smith contributed to this report.