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  Ex-Priest to Move to Care Center
After Serving Five Years for Sex Crimes, Robert Larson Will Be Moved to a Missouri Center Where He Will Receive Treatment and Continual Supervision

By Stan Finger
The Wichita Eagle [Missouri]
April 4, 2006

http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/news/local/14255951.htm

Former priest Robert Larson will spend the rest of his life at a long-term care center in Missouri for priests who have engaged in sexual misconduct, under terms of an agreement signed Monday.

Larson, 76, was released from Lansing Correctional Facility last Wednesday after serving five years in prison for sex crimes he committed while serving as the parish priest at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Newton in the mid-1980s.

Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline had sought to have Larson designated a sexual predator, which would have allowed the state to confine him indefinitely for treatment. Under terms of a 2001 plea agreement, however, the state had agreed not to declare Larson a sexual predator.

Concerns that the plea agreement would be upheld in court prompted Kline to accept a compromise.

"This agreement does much to prevent his re-offending," Kline said.

Larson will be transferred to the St. John Vianney Renewal Center near Dittmer, Mo.

"Larson will never leave those premises without strict and continual supervision to ensure he has no interaction with minors," said Dan Monnat, Larson's attorney. "This settlement appropriately addresses public safety concerns while also being considerate of the needs of a 76-year-old man who has served his time."

Larson will receive treatment similar to what is given to sexual predators at the prison outside of Larned, said Whitney Watson, a spokesman for Kline.

Larson will report to parole officers in Missouri, maintain contact with them, and register as a sex offender there.

"Because of this facility, because of the amount of supervision he will still be under, he is in a position now where his chances to re-offend are very, very slim," Watson said.

Kline's main objective was to "make sure that Larson was not put in a position to re-offend," Watson said. "This does that as well as any other option we have."

Larson served as a priest in the Wichita diocese for 30 years before being removed from the pulpit in Newton in 1988. He was sent out of state for treatment and eventually stripped of his title, duties and responsibilities as a priest.

Several men told the Eagle in 2000 that they had been molested by Larson when they were altar boys. The incidents spanned several parishes over many years.

The Eagle's story in August of that year prompted a criminal investigation and charges against Larson, who pleaded guilty in 2001 in Harvey County District Court to abusing three altar boys and a 19-year-old man in Newton.

Reach Stan Finger at (316) 268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com

 
 

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