“I am upset that Father Howlin has been released from ministry,” (Bishop) Imesch wrote to the supporter. “… people like Father Howlin are removed from ministry for a period of time far beyond what I think is called for.”

WHITLEY CITY, Ky. — Five years after church officials ordered the Rev. Carroll Howlin to stop functioning as a missionary priest in this isolated mountain community, Joliet diocesan leaders received a letter from a suburban pastor that illuminated just how little the diocese had done to enforce its own protective measures amid a crippling sexual abuse scandal.

Howlin, an avuncular-looking priest who moved here more than 30 years ago, had been suspended in 2002 after he was accused of molesting a teenage boy — the second of four such allegations he would face in his career. The Joliet Diocese later substantiated claims involving two other victims, including one who committed suicide at 17.

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