Diocesan Superintendent in Charge of Joplin Area Catholic Schools Resigns

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      On Sept. 13, 2018, Leon Witt, Diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools, submitted to the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau his intention to retire.

Bishop Edward M. Rice accepted Witt’s request effective immediately. This summer, the Diocese received two different reports from former students concerning the conduct of and comments made by Witt when he was a teacher and principal at the former St. Joseph Catholic School in Springfield, now St. Joseph Catholic Academy. These incidents were reported to have occurred approximately 20 and 25 years ago, respectively.

Consistent with diocesan policy involving minors and vulnerable adults, both of these complaints were referred to Child Abuse and Neglect and one to the Prosecuting Attorney. Neither of these complaints were determined to represent child abuse, child sexual abuse, or sexual misconduct. Consistent with diocesan policy, Witt was notified of the allegations and placed on paid administrative leave while these reports were reviewed. 

The Diocesan Safe Environment Review Board convened and after its review of each of the allegations, the board made its recommendation to Bishop Rice. Witt was hired in 1976 as a Teacher in St. Mary Catholic School, Joplin. In 1980, he was named Principal of St. Joseph Catholic School, Springfield, and continued to teach part-time. Witt was appointed diocesan Superintendent in 2003. Interim Leadership Dr. Gene Aug, currently serving as diocesan Director of Development and Properties since 2008, has taken on additional responsibilities to serve as Interim Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.

His background in Catholic Education within the Diocese will serve him well in this role: 1976-1977 Principal, Immaculate Conception School, Springfield 1977-1985 Principal, Immaculate Conception School, Springfield, and Director of the Springfield Catholic Schools 1986-1991 Director of the Springfield Catholic Schools Additionally, Brother David Migliorino, OSF, has been named Regional Moderator of Catholic Elementary Schools of Region 7, 8, and 9; Sr. Cecilia Ann Rezac, MS, has been named Regional Moderator of Catholic Elementary Schools for Region 4; and Georgianna McGriff has been named Regional Moderator of Catholic Elementary Schools for Regions 1 and 2. The Diocese will soon launch its search for a Superintendent of Catholic Schools.

Assistance to victims The Diocese will reach out to every person who has been the victim of misconduct by anyone acting in the name of the Church, whether the abuse was recent or occurred many years in the past.

Persons who wish to document an allegation may do so by calling the Missouri Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-392- 3738; or contact William Holtmeyer, Jr., MS, NCC, LPC, CEAP, Director of Child and Youth Protection, (417) 866-0841, or billholtmeyer@dioscg.org; or Victim Assistance Coordinator Judy St. John, LPC, NCC, (573) 587-3139, or vac1@dioscg.org; or through the diocesan Web-based TIPS Online Reporting portal (see dioscg.org and look for “TIPS” link). The Safe Environment Policies for the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau are available under the Child and Youth Protection ministry tab on the diocesan Website: www.dioscg.org. CONTACT Leslie Anne Eidson leidson@dioscg.org Diocese of Springfield Cape Girardeau 601 South Jefferson Ave. | Springfield, MO 65806-3143 Office (417) 866-0841 | www.dioscg.org Copyright © 2018 Diocese of Springfield Cape-Girardeau. All rights reserved. Superintendent of Catholic Schools retires September 14, 2018 Amended Sept. 17, 2018

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