WEST POINT, Neb. (KCAU) – A priest who served northeast Nebraska parishes is suing the Omaha Archdiocese for $2.1 million for defamation, violation of due process, and multiple tort actions.
Rev. Andrew Syring, who was ordained in 2011, filed the lawsuit August 28 in Cuming County District Court against the Archdiocese and alleges that it removed him from public ministry in West Point in October 2018, and then published his name on a list of clergy sex offenders, despite that he was not accused of criminal sexual misconduct with a minor.
In a release from Syring’s lawyer, Syring said that the Archdiocese’s actions caused harm, his reputation, and prohibits him from the profession for which he is educated.
Syring was ordained in 2011 and served his hometown parish of Schuyler. He was accused in 2013 of “boundary violations.” These included “publicly hugging and kissing minors on the cheek,” but Syring has denied any wrongdoing. Syring said “exhaustive reviews” by the Archdiocese and law enforcement found no criminal misconduct at the time.
Syring returned to public ministry after extensive psychological evaluation and served without incident in various parishes in the Archdiocese for over four years before being asked to resign in 2018.
Syring claimed that even though the Archbishop admitted that Fr. Syring’s ministry had been “above reproach” and there were no complaints against him, he was abruptly removed from public ministry, saying he was only told that that the Archdiocese’s standard for public ministry had changed.
“However, no amendments to Archdiocesan policy were written or communicated to Archdiocesan clergy until June, 2019 – eight months after the Archdiocese removed Fr. Syring from public ministry,” the release said.
The release goes on to claim that it seems clear the Archdiocese attempt to placate the public with the representation of a “clean house.” when face with intense scrutiny for its failures in unrelated matters.
Syring said he recognizes the seriousness of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and the fact that it demands accountability, but demands that it “does not excuse the Archdiocese from making false and defamatory accusations against an innocent priest” He added that the reactionary decisions go against the the “very search for truth and justice deserved by victims.”
“Where can an innocent priest go to restore his name when truth is sacrificed at the altar
of expedience?” asks Syring. “Despite all that has happened, I have remained faithful to the
Church and my vows. It saddens me that when the Archdiocese was confronted by justifiable
outrage from a parish it failed, it responded out of fear and chose to ‘burn the whole house down’ rather than making meaningful, individualized decisions about its clergy members.”
Syring added that he knows that nothing can fully restore the damage to his name and reputation, but believes the truth of the matter should be brought to light.
Syring is suing the Archdiocese for defamation, false light invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and denial of due process. He is asking for $2.1 million of damages and any more necessary to be compensated.