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Priest placed on leave following sex abuse allegation

• Updated Oct 13, 2018 at 9:20 PM

A Catholic priest, who served at a Norwalk parish for 10 years, has been accused of sexually abusing a child.

The Rev. Nelson Beaver has been placed on administrative leave, effective immediately, Bishop Daniel E. Thomas announced Saturday.

This action was taken as the result of a recently made allegation of sexual abuse dating back more than 25 years ago, according to a statement issued by the Diocese of Toledo.

Beaver is the pastor of Resurrection Parish in Lexington and St. Mary of the Snows Parish in Mansfield. The allegation was not made in relation to these parish assignments.

He is no longer residing at those parishes while on administrative leave.

Beaver, who served as a priest at Norwalk’s St. Mary parish from 1994 to 2004, has denied the allegation and this is the only such accusation against him, the statement added.

The allegation has been reported to civil authorities as required by diocesan policy.

The diocese has extended an offer of pastoral care to the individual reporting the allegation. Out of pastoral care, the bishop's representative, the dean of the area, will inform the parishioners and offer all weekend masses at Resurrection and St. Mary of the Snows parishes. In addition, counselors are being made available at all weekend masses for those in need of support.

In accordance with the Catholic Church’s “Policy for the Protection of Minors and Young People,” while on administrative leave, Beaver cannot exercise public priestly ministry, administer any of the sacraments, wear clerical attire or present himself as a priest.

Administrative leave is a precautionary measure while an allegation is being investigated, according to the statement. It should be noted that this is not a final determination of guilt. If law enforcement chooses not to pursue the matter, in accord with diocesan policy, the allegation will be independently investigated and presented to the review board.

"We take every allegation of abuse of a minor with the utmost seriousness,” Thomas said. “Administrative leave is a first, precautionary step that safeguards and protects children while we start a canonical process of determining whether the allegation can be substantiated and whether a priest should remain in ministry."

Any allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest, deacon, staff member or volunteer affiliated with the Diocese of Toledo should first be reported to local law enforcement where the abuse is alleged to have occurred. Victims also are encouraged to report any such allegation to the Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator at 419-214-4880.

Beaver became pastor of St. Mary parish in July 1994 following the transfer of the Rev. Michael Schelling.

During Beaver’s time in Norwalk, the church made several improvements.

A $255,000 renovation project began in 1996. The sanctuary area was made smaller, with the left side used for the choir and the right side for additional seating and an area set-aside for the baptismal font. The ceiling was re-plastered and the interior of the church was repainted. New flooring was installed. The benches were refinished and reconfigured. The organ was moved downstairs. The old organ and pipes were removed. New carpeting was installed in the sanctuary and the sacristies.

In 2001, an air-conditioning system was installed at a cost of $69,000.

In 2002, a new playground was added across the street from the rear of the elementary school. A garden and enrichment center was developed directly behind the school.

During the fall of 2003, the roof of the church was replaced for $55,000.

Beaver was transferred to Toledo in July 2004, and the Rev. Francis Speier became the new pastor of St. Mary’s.

It was the same year that St. Alphonsus, the church’s sister parish since 1970, was twinned with St. Joseph parish in Monroeville, and St. Mary’s was twinned with St. Anthony’s parish in Milan.

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