The Diocesan superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese, Leon Witt, has retired after allegations concerning conduct and comments. According to the Diocese, two former students came forward this summer reporting incidents involving Witt 20 years ago.
Witt has been the diocesan superintendent for 15 years, but he was hired back in 1976 as a teacher according to the Diocese. His long career with the Catholic schools came to an end last week not long after those allegations surfaced.
The Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau says over the summer, it received two reports from two former students alleging “concerning conduct and comments made” by Witt 20 and 25 years ago. The Diocese would not explain exactly what type of conduct or comments. Back then, Witt was a teacher and principal at the former St. Joseph Catholic in Springfield.
The Diocese says consistent with its policies involving minors and vulnerable adults both reports were sent over to child abuse and neglect and one to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Neither of the reports, according to the Diocese, were determined to involve child abuse, child sexual abuse or sexual misconduct.
On Sept. 13, the Diocese says Witt submitted his request to retire, which was accepted immediately.
Consistent with diocesan policy, Witt was notified of the allegations and placed on paid administrative leave while the reports were reviewed. The Diocesan Safe Environment Review Board convened and after its review of each of the allegations, the board made its recommendation to Bishop Rice.
Dr. Gene Aug, who is currently director of development and properties will serve as interim superintendent of Catholic schools and the diocese will launch its search for a permanent replacement soon.
The Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese declined to comment further and Bishop Edward Rice was out of the office Tuesday.
Witt’s exit comes at a time where the Missouri Attorney General’s Office has launched a statewide investigation of sex abuse within the Catholic Church, specifically involving priests.
Missourinet media partner KOLR-TV contributed this report