On April 7, 1992, a letter reporting sexual abuse by George Etzel was received by the archdiocese. The letter reported that the abuse occurred at Etzel’s residence where the reporter would go to help with housekeeping tasks. It consisted of foot washing and body rubbing as “therapy” for Etzel’s arthritic hands. This was the first report of abuse. Etzel was already retired at the time.
On April15, 1992, the vicar for clergy went to the hospital to confront Etzel with the report. Etzel was told that the woman was concerned that minors be protected from any inappropriate behavior on his part. Etzel admitted back rubs but denied anything sexual about them. He did acknowledge that he now realized his behavior was inappropriate.
On April 21, 1992, the vicar for clergy and the victim assistance coordinator met with the reporter who reported again about the “rubs” and stated that they started when the reporter was 14 and continued weekly for three years and then were less often. The reporter also went to confession to Etzel but these matters were not discussed in that context but it was also shared that he asked inappropriate questions about a dating relationship. He also kissed the reporter.
It was reported that a sibling was similarly abused. The main concern was that Etzel not have contact with children. The reporter had been in counseling at that time for two years. It began as ACOA then moved into the Etzel issues. The reporter was told that Etzel was retired and would now be restricted from public ministry and from having any unsupervised contact with minors.
On April 25, 1992, the vicar met with Etzel and confirmed the restriction that had been placed on him 10 days prior. He was also told that the local pastor would be informed to ensure that the restrictions were observed. He was referred for counseling.
On July 1, 1992, the same individual called the vicar and asked for a meeting with Etzel and he agreed to set one up.
On August 2, 1992, the meeting took place. The reporter read a prepared statement and expressed anger and hurt. Etzel gave a brief apology.
On October 23, 1992, the same individual asked for assistance with counseling co-pays and was told this would be provided.
In August, 1993, a second report was received that was similar to the previous report.
In 1995, Etzel’s previous restrictions were fortified with the issuance of a canonical precept.
In 1996, a modification of the precept was issued allowing for some ministry. The pastor within whose territory Etzel lived was informed of the restrictions.
In 2003, Etzel died.
In 2004, a third report was received through the mediation system.
In 2005, two settlements were reached through the mediation system.
This narrative is based on facts contained in documents related to this Diocesan priest offender.
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