Kansas diocese inquiry into abuse of minors names 22 clerics

January 25, 2019 GMT

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A law firm that reviewed 75 years of clergy files in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas found 22 substantiated claims of sexual abuse against priests or other clerics, the archdiocese announced Friday.

The archdiocese released the names of all 22 men in its publication, The Leaven . None of the 22 men are currently ministering in the archdiocese, according to list. Eleven have died; seven have been “laicized,” meaning they were removed from clerical service; one was “removed from ministry;” one was last known to be at a friary in Denver; and the status of two others are unknown.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann said in a column in The Leaven that it is difficult to “discern the truth” of an event from decades ago, especially when the accused is deceased and other people’s memories have faded.

“The list that we are providing today is accurate based on the information we possess at this moment,” Naumann wrote.

The Husch Blackwell law firm reviewed about 1,080 clergy files to compile the list. A report based on the investigation has been shared with the Kansas attorney general’s office and the list will be updated if more information becomes available, the archbishop said.

The archdiocese hired the law firm in August when the Catholic Church was shaken by a grand jury report that found abuse by up to 300 priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses over the last 70 years, and reports that Pope Francis and other church leaders knew about sexual misconduct allegations against the former archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, but rehabilitated him anyway.

“I thank the victims who have courageously come forward with allegations in order to prevent someone else from being victimized, as well as to assist with the progress of their own healing process,” Naumann wrote Friday.

Ten of the men were formerly priests in the diocese, and the others were either priests from another diocese or from a religious order ministering in the archdiocese.

The archdiocese also listed the names of four clerics with previously publicized allegations that investigators were not able to substantiate.

The review went back to the 1940s, with the most cases — nine— from the 1980s. No substantiated cases were found after 2000.

Attorney Rebecca Randles, who has represented several people who say they were abused by priests in Kansas and Missouri, applauded the release but said it’s important that the archdioceses figure out what it needs to do next.

“How do you make this better? How do you help the victims?” Randles asked. “Our experience has been the Kansas City, Kansas, diocese has not led the way with helping or dealing with these individuals.”

Naumann detailed steps the archdiocese has taken to 2003 to help prevent sexual abuse in the church, such as child safety program, criminal background checks for adults, annual safe environment audits by an independent firm and requiring all clergy, employees and volunteers to undergo safe environment training. He noted the archdiocese, which has more than 100 parishes across northeast Kansas, has passed every safe environment audit since they began in 2004.

But David Clohessy, a member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests criticized the lack of details in the list, saying it should include photos, whereabouts and work histories of the clerics.

“This is a long-overdue move to mollify an outraged flock,” Clohessy said. “How does any church employee — from bookkeeper to bishop — justify hiding for years or decades the names of these credibly accused child molesters?”