Q13 FOX Season of Giving

Spokane diocese reinstates priest; abuse claims rejected

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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The former director of Morning Star Boys’ Ranch has been reinstated as a Catholic priest after an internal review found sex abuse claims could not be substantiated.

Rev. Joseph Weitensteiner, now 82, was removed from the ministry in 2006 amid a growing number of reports from people who said they were abused sexually or physically by Weitensteiner or his staff at the boys ranch.

The Spokesman Review reports that as part of a broader process by the Diocese of Spokane, retired federal judge Michael Hogan investigated or reviewed charges against Weitensteiner. Last month, Hogan rejected the last four claims of sex abuse.

Two diocesan advisory groups recommended that the priest be reinstated.

An organization advocating for clergy sex abuse victims criticized the reinstatement and called on the diocese to release more information about the process used to reject claims.

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