Priest Leaves Eastern Plains Assignment after Report of Sex Acts

Associated Press State & Local Wire
May 22, 2002


A priest who acknowledged sexual acts with a fellow teen-ager 30 years ago has been removed from his ministry on the Eastern Plains.

Rev. Thomas Kloppenborg, 51, was recalled to St. Louis last week, where he was given a desk job, Paul Zemitzsch, a spokesman for the Vicentian order's Midwest Province in suburban St. Louis, said Tuesday.

Kloppenborg served as pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Cheyenne Wells and St. Augustine church in Kit Carson for the past nine years.

He had reported the encounters, which took place when he was in his late teens as he studied to become a priest.

The minor involved was a boy in his mid-teens, Zemitzsch said. He said it is unclear how often the two met, but police were not called.

The report came to light after the head of the Midwest Province ordered a review of the congregation's files in response to nationwide allegations of priest abuse in recent months.

There have been no allegations of abuse against Kloppenborg during his time in Colorado, Colorado Springs Bishop Richard Hanifen said in a letter read at the two parishes Sunday.

The Vincentians' Midwest provincial decided removing Kloppenborg is appropriate given the more stringent standards for priests because of the scandal.

"Obviously, the incident was extremely unfortunate," Zemitzsch said. "The measures taken did not occur without a great amount of thought and consideration."

The Cheyenne County congregations, which total 165 families, are the easternmost parishes in the Colorado Springs Diocese.

Kloppenborg will not be assigned to parish work or be allowed to work with children for the foreseeable future, Zemitzsch said.

The removal of Kloppenborg is the first of a priest in the Colorado Springs Diocese since the priest sex abuse scandal began sweeping the nation this year.


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