Editor's Note: Releasing a brief press notice announcing the exoneration is easier to do than to restore the good name of a priest held up to public contempt for month. Accused priests are treated as guilty until proven innocent. How many Catholics know about the accusations? How many fewer know about the exoneration. How will you restore Father's reputation, Bishop Burbidge?
not credibly accused of child sexual abuse
July 24, 2019
Since March 14, 2018, the Diocese of Arlington has provided announcements and updates regarding allegations of child sexual abuse and other inappropriate conduct against Father Michael Duesterhaus. Father Duesterhaus was placed on administrative leave pending investigations conducted by local law enforcement agencies and the Diocese of Arlington.
On January 17, 2019, the Diocese of Arlington was informed that the Stafford County Commonwealth Attorney was not pursuing criminal charges against Father Duesterhaus. This followed previous decisions in other jurisdictions that no criminal charges would be pursued.
The Diocese subsequently completed its own internal investigation of all allegations involving Father Duesterhaus. The information gathered during that investigation was presented to the Diocesan Review Board, and the Review Board reported to Bishop Michael Burbidge its determination that, based on the available evidence, a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor had not been made against Father Duesterhaus. Bishop Burbidge accepted the Diocesan Review Board’s determination.
Concerns of other inappropriate conduct have been addressed with Father Duesterhaus, consistent with the diocesan Code of Conduct for Clergy, after they were investigated and assessed.
In light of these decisions, Father Michael Duesterhaus is no longer on administrative leave, and is once again permitted to exercise public priestly ministry. For the time being, his assignment is to complete graduate studies he had already begun.