Wichita diocese names 15 priests accused of child sex abuse
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Catholic Diocese of Wichita has published a list naming 15 priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse.
It also on Friday released a letter from Bishop Carl Kemme saying the diocese will soon provide information on the substantiated allegations to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, which is conducting a statewide investigation of Catholic priests.
An allegation is considered substantiated if it is supported by documentation, witness statements, law enforcement or another reliable source, the diocese said. It is also considered substantiated if the priest admitted to it.
The diocese posted on its website Thursday evening the names of nine priests of the Wichita diocese against whom allegations have been substantiated. The other six priests have had allegations in similar lists published by other parishes and served in Wichita for a period of time, the diocese said in a news release.
Its website includes ordination dates, assignment histories and current status.
Most of the reported incidents occurred between the 1950s and 1980s, according to the diocese. Eleven of the clergy listed on the website are dead, and the others have been removed from the clergy.
The disclosures were made after “a comprehensive and independent audit” of all clergy files over the last several months by attorney Stephen Robinson, the diocese said.
Kemme in a letter written in English and Spanish — and a seven-minute video posted on YouTube — apologized to the victims and their families for the suffering due to the “criminal, sinful and horrific acts” by priests of the diocese. He encouraged any survivors who have not yet come forward to reveal their abuse to legal authorities or the diocese victim assistance coordinator.
“Owning our past is the first step in building a new future, one in which we will continue to diligently work hard as we have been for many years now, so that these violations to human dignity will never happen again,” Kemme said. “Many of the faithful will no doubt experience great anger in receiving this information. I share that anger.”
The disclosure in Kansas immediately faced criticism by some in the victim advocacy group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The group said in an email that bishops have been posting predator priests names on church websites for 17 years, and said Kemme must explain his “irresponsible delay” in posting the list in Wichita.
It also urged Kemme to take further steps such as including the photos whereabouts of every accused priest or deacon to help victims identify the clerics who assaulted them and warn others of their presence.