INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The first married priest in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis is accused of battering his wife, including in part inside a church, according to court documents. While Rev. Luke Reese waits for trial, community members are sharing their thoughts as details of the allegations are made public.
An attorney for the victim, Mary Foley Panszi, released this statement Wednesday afternoon:
"It is unfortunate when anyone is a victim of domestic violence or physical abuse. However, in today’s environment where I believe people, both men and women, are much more conscious and aware of the devastation that is caused to the abused victims and their families, it greatly concerns me that I can still read comments from people within the church and the greater Indiana community at large, saying it must be the victim’s fault."
Reese is charged with criminal confinement, kidnapping, domestic battery, battery resulting in bodily injury and intimidation.
"We were definitely just really shocked, it's not something that has ever happened in this neighborhood," said Tia Maschger, who lives near Holy Rosary Catholic Church where Reese served.
According to court documents, in September Reese's wife told police Reese found her and another man in a vehicle. She told investigators Reese then drove her around while hitting her and ended up taking her to Holy Rosary Church, where he made her kneel at the altar, told her he could choke her and slammed her into a wall, according to court documents.
"You don't have to be a priest to find this disturbing. If this had been anybody it would have been trouble to begin with, that we're dealing with a public individual that has such a high public profile, it is even more atrocious in some ways," said a churchgoer who asked to remain anonymous.
Reese is a former Anglican priest and is now what is called a parochial vicar. Reese was part of a group ordained into the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI established the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter to allow former Anglican priests to join the church in 2012.
The Persnoal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter said Reese was assigned to St. Joseph of Arimathea Ordinariate Community in Indianapolis and had an assignment at Holy Rosary Catholic Church. It said Reese was placed on leave Sept. 27th, has not had priestly duties since and is not allowed to exercise any public ministry.
"The Ordinariate is committed to collaborating with authorities to ensure justice is provided for all concerned, and affirms the Catholic Church's clear teaching that domestic violence is never justified," it wrote in part in a statement.
In the meantime, the churchgoer FOX59 spoke with said more care for priests is necessary from the church.
"There are simply no really good safeguards or pastoral mechanisms to address these kinds of issues before they actually occur," he said.
He said the news won't keep him from returning to church though.