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Former Dutchess Priest Removed After Sex Abuse Allegations

Peter J. Kihm, former pastor at Church of the Good Shepherd and other Dutchess County parishes has been removed from the priesthood, according to the Archdiocese of New York. Photo Credit: Catholic New York
Church of the Good Shepherd in Rhinebeck was the last place Peter J. Kihm served as a priest. Parishioners were told earlier this month that Kihm was removed after decades--old sex abuse allegations were found to be credible. Photo Credit: Google Images

RHINEBECK, N.Y. -- A former Dutchess County priest was officially removed from the clergy during the past month after an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse from the 1980s, according to the Archdiocese of New York.

Claims of sexual abuse made against Peter J. Kihm, 60, last year were found to be credible by both law enforcement and the Archdiocesan Review Board, Auxiliary Bishop Dominick John Lagonegro said in a March 14 letter to parishioners of Church of the Good Shepherd in Rhinebeck, where Kihm most recently served as pastor. (See letter attached below.)

However, the five-year statute of limitations expired to file criminal or civil charges against Kihm based on the original accusations, authorities said.

Kihm requested and received a return to the lay state so "he will never again be able to serve as a priest here in this archdiocese or anywhere else in the world," Lagonegro wrote. 

When Kihm was suspended and removed as pastor at Good Shepherd's parish on Jan. 19, 2015, the allegation involved a young person and more than one occurrence about 30 years ago, according to earlier media accounts.

Kihm is no longer living in New York state, and could not be reached for comment.

The Dutchess County District Attorney's Office, which investigated the claims with state police, became aware of two possible victims, Assistant District Attorney Kristine Whelan told The Poughkeepsie Journal. "Unfortunately, in both cases, the statute of limitations had long passed."

Kihm was asked to resign voluntarily or the Archdiocese could have begun steps to have him removed, church officials said. He denied the accusations in this Poughkeepsie Journal story.

Before his assignment at Good Shepherd in 2013, Kihm spent more than a decade as pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church in Poughkeepsie.

Kihm was a faculty member of Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Poughkeepsie from 1987 to 1992. Before serving there, Kihm was parochial vicar from 1984 to 1987 at Saint Mary Mother of the Church in Fishkill.

Since he was ordained in 1981, Kihm also served at churches in other counties and as administrator at the Church of St. John the Baptist in Poughkeepsie.

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