February 24, 2006

Priest steps down after sex abuse allegations


By Sharon K. Wolfe

and Greg Cima

PEORIA - A priest who served in churches throughout Central Illinois has stepped down from public ministry after allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor about 25 years ago.

William Virtue has denied the allegations and agreed to cooperate with Peoria Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, according to a statement issued Thursday by the Catholic Diocese of Peoria.

The news stunned parishioners at Sacred Heart Church, Farmer City, where he served from 2001 to 2003. Members contacted Thursday said they have trouble believing the allegation.

"It just hurt you so bad to hear it," said church member Helen Johanns. "I thought he was a wonderful priest. I thought he was a very nice person."

Posted by kshaw at February 24, 2006 06:59 AM