After beating his wife, an Indianapolis priest drove her more than two hours to her 90-year-old grandmother’s home in Auburn, Ind., where he told his wife she could avoid “temptation,” police said.
Rev. Luke Reese, 49, had also hoped to make his wife “confess” to her grandmother on Sept. 24 about "what she had done by talking to another man," the wife told police, according to court documents obtained by the Indianapolis Star.
Earlier that day, Reese had met up with his wife at a local park to talk things over after Reese caught his wife in a car with another man, police said. But after Reese’s wife joined him in his car, he locked the door, WTHR reports, and started driving, she told police.
As he drove, Reese began to slap his wife and order her to tell him the password to her phone, according to court documents. Next Reese drove his wife to the church where he worked, court records said, where Reese made his wife kneel at the altar, threw her against a wall and said he was going to choke her, the Star reports.
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After leaving the church, Reese took his wife back to the car and again demanded that she reveal the passcode to her phone, court records said. Eventually the wife let him access the phone, on which Reese read texts she had been swapping with the other man, court records said — and then Reese began slapping her again, his wife told authorities, banging her head against the car window.
When the victim’s grandmother saw her granddaughter, she noticed how swollen and bruised the woman’s face was, the grandmother told police. That prompted Reese to yell, “I hit her, that’s what’s wrong with her,” according to court records obtained by the Star.
“A priest and you beat her?” the grandmother asked Reese.
“I could have killed her,” Reese responded, court documents said.
Reese then left Auburn with his wife and took her back to Indianapolis, WTRH reports, where Reese began to slice up her clothing and made her go to bed. Then he again looked at his wife’s texts and sexually assaulted her, the wife told police.
Reese was charged on Oct. 14 with criminal confinement, kidnapping, domestic battery and intimidation, according to Marion County Court records. He is scheduled to be tried by jury in May.
Reese became the first married priest in Indianapolis after he was ordained in 2016, FOX 59 reports. He worked as a parochial vicar at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church of Indianapolis, but took a six-month leave of absence beginning in October, the same month that criminal charges were filed against him.
The church wrote in a letter to parishioners announcing Reese’s leave that if anyone inquired about where Reese had gone, church staff would “politely but firmly tell you to ‘mind your own business.’ ”
The couple filed for divorce in December, according to Marion County court records.
The wife’s attorney has spoken out about the alleged abuse.
“Abuse is horrible and cannot be tolerated at any time, but when it is perpetrated by a priest, within a church, it shatters the trust of the community at large who hold their clergy to such high regard and esteem,” Mary Foley Panszi, the attorney, said in a statement to WTHR. “The fact that a priest could conduct such horrible abusive actions over a more than 24 hour period of time which has led to his arrest on multiple felonies.”
Before becoming a Catholic priest in Houston, Texas, in June 2016, Reese had been ordained as an Anglican priest, according to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.