OKC Archdiocese Investigating Abuse Allegation

Wednesday, August 22nd 2018, 4:46 pm
By: LeighAnne Manwarren

The Oklahoma City Archdiocese is investigating a report of abuse by a priest.

In a letter dated on Friday, Aug. 17, a former resident of Oklahoma reported abuse suffered in 1985 at the hand of a former priest. The archdiocese identified the priest as Ben Zoeller. 

Archbishop Paul Coakley ordered a review of the former priest's file as well as an independent investigation.

After reviewing the file, the allegation against Zoeller was found credible. He was removed as a priest in 2002 and was defrocked in 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI, the archdiocese said. 

The recent allegation was reported to the Oklahoma attorney general's office and the Oklahoma County district attorney.

The state attorney general's office said they received the letter Monday night and it is currently under review. 

According to the news release, Coakley expressed profound sadness upon receiving the letter and apologized for the abuse suffered at the hands of a former priest. Along with the continued investigation, Coakley asked the archdiocese to contact the former resident to assist him with the effects of these egregious acts. 

To report incidences of abuse by a priest in the past or present, contact the Abuse of Minors Pastoral Response Hotline at (405) 720-9878.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has established a statewide abuse reporting hotline – (800) 522-3511.