Southeast Missouri authorities arrest retired priest in Springfield in sex abuse case

SPRINGFIELD, Mo (KFVS) -- Stoddard County, Mo. authorities arrested a retired Catholic priest living in Springfield after prosecutors charged him with multiple counts of sexual abuse.

Courtesy: Stoddard County, Mo. Sheriff's Office

According to Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Russ Oliver, 76-year-old Frederick Lutz was arrested on a Stoddard County warrant for charges of forcible sodomy, two counts of statutory sodomy second degree and felony sexual abuse related to allegations of sex crimes that happened while Lutz served as the priest at St. Joseph Parish in Advance, Mo. His bond was set at $125,000 cash only.

Prosecuting Attorney Oliver said the offenses are alleged to have happened between January and February 2000.

According to court documents, one of the victims was 17-years-old and attended Public School Religion Classes at St. Joseph Parish in Advance, Mo. After an alleged incident with Lutz in February 2000, the teen told his father who then spoke to the PSR teacher to see if any other incidents had been reported about Lutz.

Court documents state the teacher told Lutz about the conversation, and a few weeks later he called the father into his office and apologized for the incident.

Lutz allegedly told him he was homosexual and had recently broken up with a boyfriend that had been living with him at the rectory.

Investigators say they learned of another incident that allegedly happened in Cape Girardeau County, Mo. in 1972. They say the victim was also 17 years old at the time and worked a summer job at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Cape Girardeau.

The victim told investigators that he went with Lutz and another man he knew only as “Tex” to an event in Ste. Genevieve, Mo. After the event, he said they returned to Tex’s apartment in Cape Girardeau where they all started drinking alcohol and he passed out. The victim said when he woke up, he noticed he was in the bishop’s bed at St. Mary’s Church and Lutz was touching him.

According to court documents, the victim made a formal complaint about the alleged incident with the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese in 2006. The victim said at the time of the incident, Lutz was a transitional deacon at the church and had not been appointed priest yet.

The Missouri Attorney General’s Office discovered the allegations in church documents they received during an investigation of Catholic priest abuse. The Missouri Attorney General referred the allegations to the Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office on January 2, 2020 for investigation.

Eric Schmitt released this statement that reads in part:

"We're pleased to see that the case has been initiated and charges have been filed by the Stoddard County Prosecutor's Office following that referral. While this may not provide much solace to victims, these charges represent the next crucial steps in holding abusers accountable for their actions."

The Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau released a statement that reads in part:

"The Diocese will continue to participate in this ongoing investigation and so as not to hinder law enforcement in its efforts, the Diocese is unable to further comment at this time."

People living near Lutz in Springfield said they were surprised to learn of the charges.

"That's insane. I grew up in the Catholic church and hearing all of that kind of stuff. You never really think about it until it's 25 feet that way," said Ian Meyer.

Stoddard County Investigator Tim McCoy said, "We hope that people realize that there is still the possibility for justice."

He got the case last month.

"Sometimes they are a little hesitant to go into great detail so working these types of cases can be a challenge," he said.

Officials will bring the retired priest back to Stoddard County. Investigators are trying to find additional victims.

Prosecuting Attorney Oliver said Lutz served as a priest in several Missouri communities from the early ’70s to late 2000s including:

1973 Associate Pastor—Holy Trinity Parish, Springfield
1974 Leave to Archdiocese of San Francisco
1975 Parochial Administrator—SS. Peter and Paul Parish, Pulaskifield, and
St. Edward Parish, in Cassville, MO
1975 Pastor—St. William Parish, Buffalo; Chaplain—Fordland Honor Camp
Parochial Administrator—Sacred Heart Parish, Conway 1981 Leave
1986 30-day retreat
1987 Associate Pastor—Immaculate Conception Parish, Jackson*
1988 Pastor—SS. Peter and Paul Parish, Pulaskifield, and
St. Edward Parish, Cassville
1991 Pastor—St. Susanne Parish, Mount Vernon, and
St. Patrick Mission Church, Greenfield 1994 Pastor—Guardian Angel Parish, Oran
1996 Pastor—St. Joseph Parish, Advance, and
St. Anthony Mission Church, Glennon
2003 Pastor—St. Benedict Parish, Doniphan, and
St. Anne Mission Church, in Grandin (mission closed in 2005)
2005 Pastor—St. Mary Parish, Lamar
2009 Health leave
2010 Pastor—St. Mary Parish, Lamar
2011 Retired

If anyone has any information on additional victims, they are asked to call Tim McCoy at the Stoddard County Prosecutor’s Office at 573-568-4640 ext. 4.