Ron Voss sought his own expulsion from the priesthood in 1997 and got it a year later. His petition, according to the Diocese of Lafayette, Ind., included this admission: "My sins are too numerous to detail, but the most grievous gather around the sexual abuse of many adolescent boys, including some minors." Yet the defrocking hasn't kept him out of Catholic Church work or away from children. ... He has long been a leader in the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas, through which hundreds of Catholic congregations around the United States assist needy ones in Haiti.
During the 1970s and '80s, [Fr. Ron Voss] ran a family camp in rural Delaware County. The charismatic peace activist sang songs of hope and preached social justice, inspiring adult campers -- and impressing their children.
Brazenly, with adults nearby, Voss invited teen-age boys to his tent or cabin. There, he engaged in "inappropriate touching and sexual manipulation," says the diocese's Vicar General Rev. Robert Sell, who investigates sexual abuse and misconduct cases. While Sell insists those youths were between the ages of 16 and 18 -- past the legal age of consent -- other sources put the victims' ages at 14 and 15. ... Voss alone had eight alleged victims, by the diocese's own count.
No lawsuit flushed out Voss, who received therapy but continued as a priest either in Indiana or Haiti for five years after he was first accused of sexual abuse. They were years of silence by Bishop Higi.
Voss is a respected figure in Haiti. In August (1996), he was honored by a visit from Higi. The bishop spent time with the former priest, who works with the needy, during a trip to the island to inspect church missions. "He is doing magnificent work," Higi said. "It's amazing what the man has been able to do."Sell also said that since Voss resigned his ministry in 1993, he has not functioned as a priest and "directs individuals to cease from calling him 'Father.'"
Some priests from the Lafayette Diocese returned from trips to Haiti months earlier with a different view. They reported comments from Haitians that Voss still might be celebrating Mass, and possibly even taking children home with him. Their concerns drew a sharp written rebuke from the diocese last March. Sell declared that Voss has stayed out of trouble and "kept constant vigilance over himself."