Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
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Spokane priest found innocent of abuse accusation
the Inland Register
(From the Feb. 27, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)
Dan Wetzler has been found innocent of an allegation of sexual abuse. (IR file photo)
Father Daniel Wetzler, a retired priest of the Diocese of Spokane, has been found innocent of a sex abuse charge and returned to ministry. An investigation by the Spokane Diocese determined that an allegation that he had molested a youth many years ago was unfounded. Bishop William Skylstad announced the news to area media Friday, Feb. 21.
An accusation was brought against Father Wetzler late last year. Father Wetzler denied the accusation at the time it was made. Pending an investigation of the accusation, Bishop Skylstad removed Father Wetzler from priestly ministry.
Father Wetzler cooperated fully with the investigation, which was conducted at the direction of the diocese, by a former police detective. Further, Father Wetzler voluntarily took and passed a polygraph test which was administered by a polygraph expert, formerly with the Washington State Patrol.
Results of the investigation were given to Bishop Skylstad, and after reviewing the report the Bishop decided the allegation against Father Wetzler was unfounded. The investigator’s report and the Bishop’s decision were presented to the Diocesan Review Board and the Board concurred with the Bishop’s decision.
The findings of the investigation and the bishop’s recommendation will be forwarded to the Vatican.
“I have come to a deeper awareness of the power of prayer,” said Father Wetzler, “especially of intercessory prayer, and am ever so grateful to all who have supported me in this most devastating time of my priestly life. I often quote St. Julian of Norwich: ‘all is well and all is going to be well.’ I truly believe this.”
“I know I join Father Wetzler’s many friends in welcoming his return to the priestly ministry,” said Bishop Skylstad. “Difficult as it is at times to order a suspension pending an investigation, I hope Father Wetzler’s many friends understand that when it comes to allegations of the abuse of a minor, just as in the case of a school district, suspension pending the outcome of an investigation has to be done to assure parents that we are doing everything possible to protect their children.”
The alleged victim has requested anonymity in the matter. The Diocese of Spokane has agreed to protect the identity of the individual.
Father Wetzler, 65, retired from active ministry in July 2002.
He was ordained a priest in 1963.
During his priestly ministry he was pastor of the parishes in Tekoa, Rockford, Othello, Connell, and Eltopia, as well as St. Paschal in Spokane.
He also served as an assistant pastor at Holy Ghost and St. Anthony, St. Ann, St. John Vianney, and St. Thomas More, Spokane.
He was diocesan director of the Catholic Youth Organization, chaplain and head of the religion department at Marycliff High School, associate director of Mater Cleri Center in Colbert, and taught for a time at Mater Cleri Seminary, Colbert.
He also has served as diocesan director and liaison for the Charismatic Renewal and will resume this service immediately.
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