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Priest allegedly sexually assaults woman, says he was ‘blowing the Holy Spirit’ into her during exorcism

I read this and thought to myself that the level of creativity by this priest suggests that he’s given a lot of thought to a defense of an act that has zero mitigating factors. He’s accused of a sex crime. Meet Rev. Thomas Euteneuer, the former head of Human Life International Inc. an anti-choice ministry.

The woman in question came to Euteneuer for an exorcism, but left allegedly sexually assaulted. She seeks $5.3 million in damages in her lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, its bishop and HLI. She charges that (via Jonathan Turley):

[He] made her repeatedly take off her clothes and then caressed and kissed her — saying that he was “blowing the Holy Spirit” into her. She said it gradually dawned on her that this was not your standard exorcism. The case will apparently explore the difference between showing why “Jesus Loves You” and showing how “Jesus loves you.”

Court documents also said that Euteneuer told the woman to undress on about six occasions, touched and kissed her body, and put his finger in her vagina. HLI, meanwhile, is saying that “Rev. Euteneuer was not authorized to perform an exorcism on the plaintiff,” (noting that the diocese had its own exorcist).  Euteneuer released a statement (a snippet):

The circumstances that led to my departure from HLI were related exclusively to my own decisions and conduct within the ministry of exorcism that I carried out independently from my responsibilities at HLI. The vast majority of my decisions and conduct, both personally and in this ministry, were morally sound and consistent with all standards of pastoral care of persons.  Moreover, they were all motivated exclusively by my desire to give priestly assistance to people in great spiritual distress. I must acknowledge, however, that one particularly complex situation clouded my judgment and led me to imprudent decisions with harmful consequences, the worst of which was violating the boundaries of chastity with an adult female who was under my spiritual care.

I take full responsibility for my own poor judgment, my weakness and my sinful conduct that resulted from it. I offer no excuse for my professional or moral failures, nor do I shift the blame to anyone else. I state without reserve that I am deeply sorry for my actions.  I have personally apologized, where possible, to anyone I have harmed.  I am saddened beyond words for my fall, not only because of the harm done to my priesthood and my family, but also because of the harm done to all others who are affected, to the faith of those who placed so much trust in me and our Church, and to the pro-life movement so populated with heroic, faithful people. I must face and make amends for the disappointment I have caused.  I have, of course, asked for God’s forgiveness and I have confidence in his boundless mercy.  I am now grateful to be able to publicly ask for all of yours as well.

HLI, in turn, had this to say:

“Charity and respect for the truth should dictate the response to every request for information or communication. The good and safety of others, respect for privacy, and the common good are sufficient reasons for being silent about what ought not be known or for making use of a discreet language. The duty to avoid scandal often commands strict discretion. No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2489. Emphasis in the original.)

And the bishop of Palm Beach sounds like he weighing whether the bad PR is enough to cut him loose.

Father Euteneuer has been undergoing intensive evaluation and counseling to address admitted inappropriate crossing of adult heterosexual boundaries on the occasion of carrying out his priestly ministry. Immediate action was taken to deal with this matter and to restrict his ministry as soon as it was brought to the attention of the Diocese. Father Euteneuer has cooperated in the process while at the same time expressing contrition for his conduct and the harm it has caused. No determination has yet been made as to when and under what circumstances he may return to ministry.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding