Fr. William T. Reinecke – Diocese of Richmond

Monsignor William T. Reinecke 

Diocese of Richmond

Ordained: 1965

Died: 1992

Assigned as follows:

  • 1990-1992      St. James (Falls Church, VA) 
  • 1980-1990      St. Ambrose (Annandale, VA) 
  • 1974-1975      Our Lady of Lourdes (Arlington, VA) 
  • 1979-1980      Our Lady of Lourdes (Arlington, VA) 
  • 1976-1979      Queen of Apostles (Alexandria, VA) 
  • 1969-1974      St. Charles Borromeo (Arlington, VA)  
  • 1965-1969      St. Mary (Alexandria, VA)  

Summary of Abuse Allegations against Monsignor William T. Reinecke:

Monsignor William T. Reinecke was ordained to the priesthood in 1965 for the Diocese of Richmond. He was incardinated to the Diocese of Arlington in 1975, after the creation of the Diocese of Arlington in 1974. He was highly loved and respected, and served in the executive leadership role of chancellor for 13 years. He also was pastor at St. James Catholic Church in Falls Church, a large and influential parish. 

According to media reports, in August 1992, a man confronted Monsignor Reinecke and accused him of sexually abusing him when he was a 13-year-old altar boy from 1967 to 1968, on an overnight trip to Williamsburg. He allegedly performed oral sex on the boy. 

The man was an executive director of the Mental Health Association of Northern Virginia, and he asked the monsignor to retire and get help. He said if he didn’t, he would take action. Monsignor Reinecke reportedly asked his forgiveness and promised to call after getting back from a retreat. Two days later he killed himself with a shotgun. He was 53.

The man said he would pursue the allegations despite Reinecke’s death “to encourage the church to do something so this will never happen again — not to its children and not to its priests. If Father Reinecke had someone to go to, this may never have happened; not my abuse and not his suicide.”

In September 1992, a second man alleged fondling during an overnight trip to Williamsburg in 1969. Soon after, his mother noticed a change in her son’s behavior, from outgoing to depressed and withdrawn. She said, when he was 20, he “went into an absolute rage” after seeing Monsignor Reinecke on a television show. After being admitted to an institution for several weeks, he first made the allegations against his abuser during therapy. 

When he told his family about the alleged incident in 1976, “the only thing we did, all seven members of our family stopped going to Catholic church,” his mother said. “We didn’t have it in our hearts and souls to go back.”

In 2006, a woman came forward alleging child sexual abuse for several years by Monsignor Reinecke in the late 1960s, when she was a 9-year-old girl in the Richmond diocese. 

“I was so ashamed, and I believed God was mad at me, that I was a dirty girl. He robbed me of my safety in my home, church and school. I believed him when he told me I would go to hell if I ever told anyone, she said.”

In 2007, the Arlington Diocesan Review Board deemed her allegation credible. She received a cash settlement and after 18 months, an official apology in 2008. 

“I realized I couldn’t be a part of a church that wouldn’t deal appropriately with these victims.”

In February 2019, Father Reinecke‘s name appeared publicly on the Dioceses of Richmond’s and Arlington’s lists of clergy credibly accused of sex abuse of minors.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Richmond.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Richmond, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Richmond now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Call us at (888) 283-9922 or send an email to adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today.