On Wednesday morning Chicago police promptly cut off rush hour traffic on a street just north of Millennium Park. A man had flung himself from the heights of the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, a sleek, ultramodern skyscraper reaching 82 stories into the downtown skyline.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office announced the next day it was a suicide, the Chicago Tribune reported. The jumper’s name was James Csaszar.
Three hundred miles away, the ugly news jolted suburban Columbus, Ohio. Until November, Csaszar had worked as a Catholic priest at the Church of the Resurrection in New Albany, Ohio. Then, after misconduct allegations surfaced about the priest, the 44-year-old was placed on administrative leave.
The investigation into Csaszar will continue despite his death, Ohio law enforcement said.
The Diocese’s decision to suspend Csaszar was due to “questionable text and telephone communications with a minor,” the church stated in a news release. The diocese went further to note the charges were also related to a “potential misuse of church funds” while Csaszar was serving at St. Rose of Lima Parish in New Lexington, Ohio.
“Following a diocesan review of the matter, the New Lexington Police were contacted and all information was turned over to them and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for their review,” the statement said.
Columbus’s 10TV reported New Lexington Police sent an email to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification with the subject line: “inappropriate relationship between Priest and 16yom.” According to the station, police were only in the preliminary stages of the investigation at the time of Csaszar’s suicide.
Csaszar worked at St. Rose Parish between 2005 and 2016. The Diocese of Columbus’s website indicates he was ordained on June 26, 1999.
“You could always talk to him and felt comfortable speaking with him and he was always there to listen to you no matter where he was on the street or what it was,” Cheryl Dodson, a New Lexington business owner, told the NBC 4. “He was one of my favorites. Out of all the Catholic priests I’ve known and affiliated with, he was one of my favorites.”
Some church members stuck with Csaszar after the allegations emerged last November. That month, an online petition was started in support of the priest.
“Evidenced, in part, by the attendance at Sunday Mass, Father Jim has been instrumental in growing Church of the Resurrection, in numbers, in spirituality, in community and in service,” the posting said. “While we don’t know the circumstances and reason for the leave, it is critical that we stay steadfast as a Parish and stay in prayerful support of Father Jim. If you are a Parishioner of The Church of the Resurrection in New Albany, Ohio, please add your name to this petition as a show of your support.”
Following the suicide, the Columbus Diocese released a statement this week: “We are reminded throughout sacred scripture that God our Father is loving, merciful, compassionate and forgiving,” it said.
“We also know that in his years of priestly ministry Fr. Csaszar did many good things for the people that he served in his parish assignments. And so we ask that everyone pray for Father Csaszar, his family, friends, and parishioners during this most difficult time.”