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  Priest Accused of Abuse Often Befriended Boys Sex Allegations Shock People Who Respect Him

By Brooks Egerton and Judith Lynn Howard
Dallas Morning News
May 23, 1993

The Roman Catholic priest accused of molesting children at Dallas-area churches has a long history of befriending boys and once served as legal guardian to one he met while working as a nurse at Methodist Medical Center.

That youth later moved into the rectory with the Rev. Rudolph Kos Jr. at All Saints Church in Far North Dallas, according to a 1984 Texas Catholic article titled "Fathers as fathers.'

"He replaced my father,' the young man told the Dallas diocesan newspaper at the time. "I never really had a father and in a sense, he replaced my mother,' who had asked the priest to help raise him.

Indeed, many people who have known Father Kos over the last two decades think of him as a warm, affectionate man who goes out of his way to help others. Many say they are shocked by a locally unprecedented lawsuit -- filed last week in Dallas by two unidentified young men -- that accuses him of sexual abuse and the Catholic diocese of covering it up.

Diocesan officials have denied wrongdoing, saying they promptly reported concerns to child welfare authorities in October, removed Father Kos as pastor of St. John Catholic Church in Ennis and sent him to a treatment facility in New Mexico.

He remains sequestered there, the officials say, and has not been available for comment.

A longtime friend, Peter Kenney, 33, of Flower Mound, described Father Kos as "not doing well.'

"I think he's kind of depressed by the whole situation,' said Mr. Kenney, who said Father Kos officiated at his wedding and is his daughter's godfather.

The two -- friends since attending Holy Trinity Seminary in the late 1970s -- met last month in Albuquerque, about 50 miles from the treatment center. "I just went to visit to see how he's been out there,' Mr. Kenney said, adding that Father Kos didn't detail the circumstances that led to his leaving Ennis.

Father Kos' mother, Dolores Hosford, said she learned of the allegations against him by reading a newspaper Saturday.

"It's hard for me to see this,' said Mrs. Hosford, 68, who lives outside the town of Magnolia, near Houston. "This is not true.'

She said her son, 48, often brought boys with him to stay for a few days at her farm outside Magnolia.

The young teens seemed "always crazy about him' and sometimes were jealous for his attention, she said. Because of that affection, Mrs. Hosford said, "I just would like to know the boys who made that statement' accusing him of sexual abuse.

Mr. Kenney's wife, Jeanne Marie, 32, said the accusations would carry more credibility if the plaintiffs had filed criminal charges.

"He was such an inspiring priest. Very inspiring priest. He was able to answer my questions about the Catholic faith so well and brought me into a deeper faith.'

When Father Kos worked at St. Luke Catholic Church and school in Irving in the 1980s, "all the kids would hang on him,' said Robb Bernardez, who was in his early teens at the time. "Every time we'd see Father Kos, we'd go jump on his back.'

Early in his tenure as assistant pastor, "he invited some of the kids' to visit after school, Mr. Bernardez said. After a while, others began to tag along, and soon eight to 10 boys were often in the office, playing video games, talking and horsing around.

"If he hadn't had those video games,' mused Mr. Bernardez, now 18 and a senior at Jesuit College Preparatory School, "I don't know if any of us would've been there.'

Since the lawsuit was filed, "some of the guys I talked to said they kind of had some idea' that the priest might be dangerous.

"But to me, it was a total shock,' he said, adding that to his knowledge, the man never abused any of them.

Another 18-year-old, a former St. Luke's student and altar boy, echoed those comments.

"Nothing at the time' made him uncomfortable about Father Kos, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "There's nothing that I could say was bad.'

In light of the lawsuit, however, "it sure changes a lot.'

The priest, he said, "was a real physical kind of guy' who frequently engaged in playful wrestling and "Vulcan neck-pinching' with the middle school-age students.

Also, he remembers that "my mom never trusted him. The parents always felt that he never cared for them very much.'

Mr. Bernardez, however, said some parents liked Father Kos because he seemed to make their sons so happy.

The former altar boy's reaction to the suit's allegations?

"I wouldn't want to believe it. . . . I wouldn't want to think that of a priest or any man.

"But looking back and putting it all together, it fits.'

Nevertheless, the young man thinks of Father Kos as "a great role model.' Boys respected him because "he set up a real good program' for training altar servers and held an appreciation Mass for them every year.

That program fell apart after he left for a new post in Ennis, the youth said.

On the day he departed in 1988, "everybody was crying. I don't remember that happening with anyone else,' even though "priests leave all the time.' Becoming a guardian

Father Kos was born in Louisville, Ky., the first child of parents whose marriage soon hit the rocks. Family members took turns raising him in his early years, as did nuns in the Catholic stronghold of Milwaukee.

After serving as an Air Force medic from 1964 to 1968, he came to Dallas and earned his bachelor of science degree from what's now the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He went on to work as a registered nurse, serving at Methodist Medical Center as coordinator of pulmonary rehabilitation from 1968 to 1977.

At some point in this period he married, but in 1971 he divorced Kathleen Kos. Also about this time, he met a boy age 5 or 6 who was seriously ill with bronchitis at Methodist.

"As the two became friends, Rudy began to spend more and more time with the young boy,' the 1984 Texas Catholic article said. The child's mother, "who divorced when her son was quite young, approached Rudy about becoming the boy's legal guardian.'

That eventually happened in 1977, although the boy continued to live with his mother until the early 1980s, after Father Kos had been ordained a priest. Then the youth moved to All Saints, living with Father Kos "and two other priests in the five-bedroom rectory.'

According to the Texas Catholic article, Father Kos and his ward "try to make time for each other within their parish and school schedules. . . . One of their favorite activities is eating out. They also vacation together, traveling to such places as Disney World.'

The youth attended Bishop Lynch High School and worked at a hotel, then eventually moved out on his own. Today, he works at a restaurant in East Dallas. He could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Father Kos was transferred to another assistant pastor's job, at St. Luke's in Irving, in 1985. He won his first full pastor's job in 1988 at St. John's in Ennis.

Along the way, he developed a reputation as having a knack for computers and helped the diocese evaluate computer equipment. In 1986,he wrote to a computer magazine praising an article it had published about an underdog brand of software.

"It is unfortunate that Desqview cannot compete with the slick-sheet advertising of its competitors, but I'm sure Desqview will win out,' the letter read. "Where I come from, the good guy always wins.'

 
 

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