Outside investigator to examine Facebook posts on priest abuse

suicide victim alleged abuse

Owensboro Messenger-InquirerFebruary 8, 2011 

David Jarboe was a 2006 graduate of Owensboro Catholic High School.

OWENSBORO — The Diocese of Owensboro announced Monday afternoon it is using an independent investigator to examine allegations made in a Facebook note an Owensboro man posted before fatally shooting himself in the parking lot of Blessed Mother Catholic Church on Thursday.

The Daviess Commonwealth Attorney's Office is having the Owensboro Police investigate as well.

David M. Jarboe, 23, posted about the "pain and torment" he experienced because of sexual abuse in the Catholic church. His body was found outside the church Thursday morning.

Because of the information posted on Facebook, the Most Rev. William F. Medley, bishop of the Diocese of Owensboro, convened the Diocesan Review Board on Saturday, according to a diocesan news release.

The board investigates sexual abuse allegations in the diocese, according to the diocese's Web site.

Medley and the Diocesan Review Board examined Jarboe's Facebook post. The board then recommended the diocese use an independent investigator to get more information, the news release said.

"Within this posting, David spoke of pain he had endured as a consequence of sexual abuse within the Church, perhaps at the hands of a Catholic priest. ... While David's posting included names of priests, it did not directly identify any priest or any other person as an abuser," the news release said. "Bishop Medley will act upon this recommendation (Monday) to initiate this further investigation."

In accordance with diocesan policy, Teresa Henry, chairwoman of the Diocesan Review Board, made a report to Daviess Commonwealth's Attorney Bruce Kuegel, the press release stated.

Kuegel said he received a copy of the diocesan news release Monday and referred the matter to Owensboro police for investigation.

"The Commonwealth's Attorney's Office does not conduct independent investigations. We rely on police officers within our jurisdictions," Kuegel said.

Officer Marian Cosgrove, police public information officer, said there is an open investigation.

"The initial complaint is of a suicide. That is still the scope of the investigation, but it still isn't complete," Cosgrove said. "If there are any other directions in this case, they will be investigated."

The department's investigation is independent of anything being done by the diocese, Cosgrove said.

The department would expect the diocese to share the findings of its investigation with police, Cosgrove said.

Jarboe wrote about sexual abuse in the Catholic church in his Facebook post, stating, "The abuse of the church is real. Let it be known. It doesn't make you a non-believer. It doesn't jeopardize your fate. It's the right thing to do. ...

"However, never once will I ever agree with the molestation of children. And never once will I agree with an institution that chooses to not acknowledge it."

Jarboe wrote he hoped "that this message will save at least one child from the pain and torment that I had to go through. ... Let this be hope to all those out there that have been abused by a Catholic Priest in any capacity. Perhaps your parents don't see, perhaps those you know don't see, know that God sees. And God never forgets."

In the note, he had messages for three priests. To the first one, whom he identified as Father Fedewa, Jarboe wrote, "Thanks for proving to me what dedicating your life to Christ can be like. Thanks for your service to the Church."

To the second, identified as the Rev. William Baer: "you get no thanks. You are an evil man. Period."

To the third, the Rev. Freddie Byrd: "I forgive you."

Baer is the former rector of St. John Vianney College Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, where Jarboe was a student from fall 2006 to spring 2007 and in spring 2008.

Jim Winterer, director of news services at the University of St. Thomas, said the school hasn't had any complaints about Baer. Winterer said he didn't have information on why Jarboe took the fall 2007 semester off or why he left the university.

Students in the seminary program take courses at St. Thomas. Jarboe left the seminary program in spring 2008, although he finished the semester, Winterer said.

There are no plans for an investigation at the university, Winterer said.

Baer is thought to be pastor of Transfiguration Catholic Church in Oakdale, Minn.

Byrd was pastor of Blessed Mother from 1998 to 2008. According to the diocese's Web site, he is pastor of St. Peter of Antioch and Sacred Heart parishes in Waverly. Attempts to contact Baer and Byrd were unsuccessful.

Messenger-Inquirer reporter James Mayse contributed to this report.

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