The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City is investigating one of its former priests accused of sexual abuse in the 1980s. The organization made the announcement on August 22, after receiving a letter from a former Oklahoma City resident a few days earlier.
“In the letter dated Aug. 17, the former resident reported abuse suffered in 1985 at the hands of former priest, Ben Zoeller,” the Archdiocese said in a written statement. “Once the allegation was received, Archbishop Paul Coakley ordered a review of the former priest’s file as well as an independent investigation, which is ongoing.”
Ben Zoeller last served St John’s Nepomuck Church in Yukon, according to spokesperson Diane Clay.
“This victim courageously came forward after many many years, which certainly isn’t easy, and we thank him for that,” Clay said.
Clay said Zoeller’s file, including the letter, was given to an independent law firm on Wednesday to investigate whether there were other victims, how past allegations were handled, where the alleged abuse occurred and the reason for Zoeller’s removal from the priesthood in 2002.
“We wanted to let people know that this allegation had been made, and we’re also encouraging people that if they were abused by the former priest to call the archdiocese and let us know, as well,” Clay said.
Clay says the findings of the independent investigation will be made public.
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