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Omaha priest files $2.1 million defamation suit against archdiocese

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CNA Staff, Sep 9, 2020 / 06:11 pm MT (CNA).- A priest in Omaha who was removed from ministry in 2018 following claims of boundary violations is suing the Archdiocese of Omaha, saying he was treated unfairly and denied due process.

Last month, Fr. Andrew Syring filed a lawsuit against the archdiocese for $2.1 million. He says he had been cleared of misconduct and that the archdiocese damaged his reputation by including him on a list of accused priests.

Syring had served as a priest for the Archdiocese of Omaha since 2011. The lawsuit says an allegation was made against Syring in 2013, but that the local police, county sheriff, and a retired FBI agent hired by the archdiocese all investigated the matter thoroughly and found no wrongdoing. The lawsuit says the priest then received psychiatric evaluations from two institutions, both of which cleared him from predatory behavior and other disorders.

Based on these evaluations, Syring was approved by the archbishop and the archdiocesan review board to return to public ministry, the lawsuit says. He served in public ministry for the next four years, until he was abruptly removed again in 2018.

The suit says Omaha Archbishop George Lucas told Syring at that time that his service had been above reproach, but that standards for public ministry had changed and he was being removed from public ministry. The archdiocese then included Syring’s name on a “List of substantiated claims of clergy sexual abuse or misconduct with a minor.”

The priest is now saying that he was treated unjustly because the archdiocese knew that he had been cleared of wrongdoing and had never been prosecuted or convicted.

In a statement to local media outlet WOWT, the archdiocese said it could not comment because the matter was a personnel issue dealing with internal church discipline, and the subject of a lawsuit.

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