A USA TODAY Network Investigation found nearly 700 former Catholic priests accused of abuse. Some have moved on, while their victims seek justice.
A former Catholic priest living in Springfield was arrested Wednesday on charges of sexually abusing a teenager 20 years ago in southeast Missouri.
Frederick J. Lutz, 76, is facing charges of forcible sodomy, statutory sodomy and sexual abuse.
The charged crimes allegedly occurred in January or February of 2000 at Lutz’s residence at the St. Joseph Parish in the town of Advance, Missouri in Stoddard County.
Lutz is also accused of sexually abusing a different teenager in 1972 in Cape Girardeau. Those 1972 allegations did not result in charges, perhaps because of the statute of limitations.
In 2000, Lutz was a priest at St. Joseph Parish when he allegedly forced a 17-year-old Catholic school student to perform sex acts with him after playing a pornographic video.
A probable cause statement in the case says the incident was reported to a teacher at the St. Joseph school back in 2000, but Lutz was apparently not charged with any crimes at the time.
The statement says the Stoddard County Prosecutor’s Office interviewed the 2000 accuser and the 1972 accuser in January of this year, and charges were filed about a month later.
This case was spurred by last year’s statewide investigation from the Missouri Attorney General’s Office into clergy sexual abuse that culminated with 12 cases being sent to local prosecutors for review.
The 1972 accusation is that Lutz, who at the time was a transitional deacon at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Cape Girardeau, supplied a then-17-year-old with alcohol and performed a sex act on him after he passed out.
The charges filed Tuesday against Lutz are all felonies, and one carries a possible life sentence. Lutz does not have an attorney listed for this case.
The Springfield-Cape Girardeau Catholic Diocese said Lutz retired from active ministry in 2011. The diocese identified Lutz in 2018 as a priest credibly accused of sexual abuse but only mentioned the allegation from 1972.
Lutz had been living in southeast Springfield prior to this week’s arrest. According to the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Catholic Diocese, Lutz also served an appointment at Holy Trinity Parish in Springfield in 1973.
The News-Leader tried unsuccessfully to contact Lutz numerous times in October as part of a USA Today project titled “The Priest Next Door” that examined whether there should be more monitoring of credibly accused priests, similar to the sex offender registry system, and whether the statute of limitations for prosecuting clergy sex crimes should be abolished.
In a news release Wednesday, the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau said it actively participated in the Attorney General’s investigation. The diocese said it followed its safe environment protocol back when the 2000 allegation was first made and reported that information to the then-Stoddard County prosecutor. But Lutz was not convicted at that time.
The diocese provided this list of Lutz’s pastoral appointments:
- As a transitional deacon, Lutz served in St. Mary of the Annunciation Cathedral, in Cape Girardeau (1972), and Holy Trinity Parish, Springfield (1973).
- 1973 Associate Pastor—Holy Trinity Parish, Springfield
- 1974 Leave to Archdiocese of San Francisco
- 1975 Parochial Administrator—SS. Peter and Paul Parish, Pulaskifield, and St. Edward Parish, in Cassville
- 1975 Pastor—St. William Parish, Buffalo; Chaplain—Fordland Honor Camp Parochial Administrator—Sacred Heart Parish, Conway
- 1981 Leave
- 1986 30-day retreat
- 1987 Associate Pastor—Immaculate Conception Parish, Jackson
- 1988 Pastor—SS. Peter and Paul Parish, Pulaskifield, and St. Edward Parish, Cassville
- 1991 Pastor—St. Susanne Parish, Mount Vernon, and St. Patrick Mission Church, Greenfield
- 1994 Pastor—Guardian Angel Parish, Oran
- 1996 Pastor—St. Joseph Parish, Advance, and St. Anthony Mission Church, Glennon
- 2003 Pastor—St. Benedict Parish, Doniphan, and St. Anne Mission Church, in Grandin (mission closed in 2005)
- 2005 Pastor—St. Mary Parish, Lamar
- 2009 Health leave
- 2010 Pastor—St. Mary Parish, Lamar
- 2011 Retired
Read or Share this story: https://www.news-leader.com/story/news/crime/2020/02/19/catholic-church-priest-sexual-abuse-st-joseph-missouri/4811238002/