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Group presses for priest to move



Published: Tue, April 5, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Retired priest has been instructed to have no involvement with the school.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

LIBERTY -- A retired priest convicted of a sex crime involving a minor should not be living on the same grounds as a preschool and kindergarten.

That's the position of a group of sex-abuse victims and supporters who want the Diocese of Youngstown to make a priest move.

Members of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests held a news conference Monday afternoon outside of the Villa Marie Teresa Pre-school, 50 Warner Road. The group is asking that the Rev. Robert Hill be moved from that location.

"We want parents to know that this man is living here," said Barbara Blaine, SNAP president. "Some of the parents said they see him walking the grounds."

Blaine said records from Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court show that Father Hill was convicted in 1992 of compelling prostitution with a minor.

"We have to put the protection of kids first," Blaine said.

Diocese opinion

The diocese released a statement saying the Bureau of Child Care Services of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reviewed the matter of Father Hill's residence in June 2002 and offered no objection. The statement also said that Father Hill lives in a building that is separate from the building housing the day care and kindergarten.

"I would like to see those records and find out who said that a convicted sex offender can reside on the grounds of a preschool," Blaine said.

Officials at the bureau of child-care services could not be reached to comment.

"Father Hill is surrounded by other priests and nuns," the diocese statement reads. "He has been instructed to have no involvement with the school facility."

A spokeswoman with the dioceses also said that Father Hill has lived at the facility for 10 years and there have been no complaints. They didn't have his exact age but said he is in his 70s.

Blaine said the group believes that the priest should be moved to a professionally run treatment center for sex offenders.

SNAP is a national support group for survivors of clergy sex abuse. Founded in 1989, the group has more than 5,600 members and support groups meeting in more than 60 cities.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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