Sexual Misconduct Investigation Continues for Former Newman Center Priest
By David Bartle and Libby Seline
April 10, 2019
|The Newman Center as pictured on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.|
Back in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, the Lincoln Catholic community viewed University of Nebraska-Lincoln Newman Center priest Leonard Kalin as a charismatic, respected and trusted individual.
But in August 2018, the Diocese of Lincoln announced that Kalin, along with other priests, had been accused of sexual misconduct.
Current Newman Center priest Robert Matya said he was shocked.
“[Kalin] was kind of charismatic, which has made [the investigation] surprising in a lot of ways,” Matya said of the time he spent with Kalin at the Newman Center. “We never had any thought of anything like that about him.”
Kalin served at the Newman Center from 1970 to 1998 and died in 2008, according to the diocese’s director of communications, Nicholas Kipper. The diocese and Bishop James Conley formed a task force on child sexual abuse in August 2018 to investigate accusations, including those against Kalin. In March2019, the diocese asked private detective Tom Gorgen to conduct an investigation based on the accusations.
Kipper said Kalin had been accused of emotional and physical boundary violations. Kalin was active in the community, so Kipper said it’s important to the diocese that Kalin’s behavior is investigated even though he is deceased.
“The reason for the investigation of Monsignor Kalin is for healing in the Diocese of Lincoln so we can really understand what had taken place, and we can move on from there,” Kipper said.
Gorgen said he will interview people who have relevant information about Kalin and has already started to review documents related to Kalin. Although he doesn’t know how long the process will take, he will give the task force and Conley a complete report of the investigation when he’s finished.
“I try to encourage everyone to take the time to think about everything and make a personal decision about speaking with me,” he said. “ … There’s nothing set in concrete based on how fast we go or how slow we go. The investigation kind of has its own time table based upon the people I’m working with.”
The interviews are confidential, and Gorgen said the conversations are difficult, but he will use his experience in researching sexual misconduct cases.
“These investigations are very emotional and can be very upsetting to people,” he said. “… Even though I am an investigator, I also have to wear a second hat, which is one of a good listener to understand what the person I’m speaking with is experiencing and feeling when we’re talking about this.”
Gorgen said the diocese may ask him to conduct a follow-up investigation depending on his results, but regardless, Kipper said the diocese will communicate with the community about the results.
The Diocese of Lincoln is committed to ensuring the safety of its parishioners, Kipper said. Matya said that the diocese has provided workshops and training for priests, and also released new procedures to prevent or catch future cases of clerical misconduct.
“Bishop Conley, as the leader of the Diocese of Lincoln, wants to make sure that all of our Catholic institutions are safe and that means to build trust in the people that children will be safe in our institutions,” Kipper said. “ … We want to do everything we can to have these safe institutions so that the word of God can be proclaimed.”
In the meantime, Matya said he will continue to serve the Lincoln Catholic community.
“All I can do is keep being a good priest; what else can I do?” said Matya. “That’s what I’m going to keep doing.”