Retired Des Moines Priest Receives Third Accusation of Alleged Sexual Abuse of a Minor
By Alex Ivanisevic
Des Moines Register
September 28, 2018
The Diocese of Des Moines has heard a third allegation of decades-old sexual abuse of a minor by the same priest.
The complaint — received Sept. 6 — was made against the Rev. Leonard Kenkel, according to a news release from the diocese. Bishop Richard Pates immediately referred the allegation to local law enforcement, the diocese said. Pates has apologized to the victim, who asked for anonymity.
Two allegations of decades-old abuse have previously been made in 2003 and 2005 against Kenkel. The Allegation Review Committee — comprising a chief of police, a judge, a lawyer, a counselor, a retired teacher, a priest and a deacon — determined in both cases there was not strong enough evidence to conclude that sexual abuse happened, but recommended that Kenkel meet with a professional, which he did, to help him better understand personal space and the recognition of appropriate boundaries for physical contact.
"It has always been a top priority for me that we address all allegations of sexual abuse with utmost transparency, consistency and accountability outlined by the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," Pates said in the news release. "The diocese continues to work diligently to ensure a safe environment for children and all vulnerable individuals in our churches and schools."
Kenkel — ordained a priest in 1960 — served the following Des Moines parishes: Christ the King, Holy Trinity and St. Peter. He also served St. Boniface Parish in Westphalia, Holy Spirit Parish in Creston and St. Edward Parish in Afton. Kenkel taught at Dowling Catholic High School for 27 years, from 1962 to 1989. He retired in 2008.
An investigator will consult with the diocesan Allegation Review Committee to determine future steps, the diocese said.
The bishop suspends a priest from public ministry while he is facing an allegation, until law enforcement and the diocesan committee complete their investigations, per diocesan policy. In this case, Kenkel is retired in a nursing facility and not able to minister. Nonetheless, his priestly faculties have been suspended so he cannot engage in public ministry.
The diocese encourages anyone with allegations of abuse by clergy to contact their local police department or diocesan Victim Assistance Advocate Sam Porter at email@example.com, Sam.Porter@polkcountyiowa.gov or 515-286-2015. He can assist the person with making a complaint, and with receiving support and counseling