Siblings Say Father Kos Abused Boys
Priest remains silent on sexual allegations
By Todd J. Gillman
Dallas Morning News
December 26, 1993
Two brothers of former Dallas priest Rudolph Kos say he sexually molested neighborhood boys when they were growing up in Milwaukee - and even abused his youngest brother for a year.
Five former parishioners have sued Father Kos and the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, accusing him of pedophilia from 1985 to 1992 and asserting that church officials should have known about his problem.
In separate interviews, Richard Kos, 46, and Don Kos, 45, described abuse dating back three decades when their brother, now 48, was in his late teens.
The brothers said they are incensed that the church accepted Rudolph Kos as a priest and never bothered to ask his family about him. Experts say there's little doubt that adolescent child abusers, if untreated, become adult child abusers.
Attempts to contact Father Kos, who now lives in California, were unsuccessful. Under oath, he has repeatedly refused to answer questions about alleged sexual misconduct while he served at churches in Irving and Ennis from 1985 to 1992.
The diocese maintains that it removed Father Kos as soon as officials learned of any problems.
Attorneys for the diocese and the five Texas accusers say the abuse described by Richard and Don Kos closely matches the pattern alleged by each plaintiff.
Father Kos' previously undisclosed method of initiating sexual contact "is one of the ways that we've been screening clients," said plaintiffs' attorney Windle Turley. "Each of our clients has come to us with that knowledge. They thought they were the only one that it had happened to. . . . That's the way every one of them start."
Upon learning of the Kos brothers' statements, Mr. Turley said he is eager to talk to them.
"We've known for a long time that Father Kos is a pedophile," he said. "This confirms that he's been a pedophile all of his life and that a reasonable investigation would have uncovered that."
The diocese's attorney, Randal Mathis, defended the church's screening procedures for prospective priests.
"That's the first that I've heard or to my knowledge anyone else with the church has heard of" the Kos brothers' allegations, Mr. Mathis said. ". . . I don't think it's damaging to the church's defense because there's no information that anyone from the seminary or the diocese knew about it."
Mr. Mathis said he isn't sure that Father Kos automatically would have been rejected for the priesthood if his brothers had passed their information to church officials.
"There is no way for me to speculate," Mr. Mathis said. "I assume that it would have been investigated."
Father Kos - suspended as a priest this month after checking out of a church treatment center in New Mexico - has moved to San Diego, where he apparently hopes to work as a registered nurse, his profession before entering the seminary 16 years ago.
In October, he obtained a temporary California nursing license.
Records show that he has kept his Texas nursing license current since 1972.
Nursing boards in Austin and Sacramento were unaware of the sex abuse allegations, which officials say could imperil his licenses.
The first public accusations against Father Kos surfaced in May, when two young men known in court papers as John Doe I and II filed lawsuits.
The men allege that Father Kos sexually abused them while he was assistant pastor at St. Luke's Catholic Church in Irving between 1985 and 1988 and while he was pastor at St. John Nepomucene Church in Ennis from 1988 to 1992.
Two other plaintiffs, a young man and a boy, joined the suit in July, and a fifth plaintiff filed suit in October.
Father Kos has refused to testify in depositions, citing clergy confidentiality and his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
None of that surprises his brothers.
"Rudy knew exactly what he was doing," said Richard Kos, a tool-and-die maker who lives in Spring Valley, a San Diego suburb.
"He'd win the praise and trust of the adults, and from there he'd have his own little world. Rudy is a diligent little boy. He's an extremely good liar. He's a very effective liar."
Richard Kos said it has been six or seven years since he spoke with Rudy Kos.
"He probably wouldn't want to talk to me . . . because I know the truth," Richard Kos said.
In an hourlong conversation, Richard Kos described his older brother as manipulative and an active pedophile by age 16 and continuing at least until he moved away from home at 18.
"It was disgusting to me," he said. "When we grew up we got hassles from other kids because he was my brother."
Richard Kos described Rudy's victims as always younger and smaller, including their youngest brother, Don. Richard said Rudy abused Don for about a year until Richard found out and put a stop to it.
"He wouldn't go near anybody his own age for fear they'd beat the living . . . (expletive) out of him," said Don Kos, a pipe fitter who still lives in Milwaukee, where the boys were raised in turn by their father, nuns and other relatives. "It's always had to be a boy, always somebody younger than him."
Richard and Don said they tried to scare other boys away from their big brother. Sometimes they followed him secretly when he went out to meet boys. Then they would threaten or beat them up in order to keep them away.
"That was the best we knew how to do," Don Kos said.
Richard Kos expressed great bitterness toward the Roman Catholic Church, whose teachings he has rejected - in part because it accepted his brother as a priest.
"You know, the office of being a priest of the most high God is a very important office. We're talking about eternal life," Richard Kos said. "And being such an important matter . . . why didn't they ask us what Rudy was like before they let him become a priest? Why didn't they inquire? They asked me nothing."
Richard said he felt too intimidated to seek out church officials on his own.
"Who am I? Am I gonna go up to the Catholic Church and say Rudy's got a problem?" he asked. "But obviously being of pure heart isn't important to them. Being a smooth talker and a deceiver is."
Time to talk
As for his motives for speaking about his brother's problem now, Richard said he felt the time had come.
"If Rudy went before the world with his lust and his sins, then I suppose the world should see it," he said. "He's sat in the glory, and now he should sit in the shame."
Don Kos described Rudy as a "con man" so good that "if you were the pope, he'd have you believing that he was the next best thing to God hanging on the cross."
He said he burst out laughing when news of the accusations and lawsuits filtered his way. He hasn't seen his brother in about 20 years.
"If you ask me, that's the way he's been all his life," Don Kos said. "To me, the guy's a piece of . . . (expletive). He doesn't belong on Earth.
"The church was the perfect place for him. Who doesn't trust a priest? . . . I just don't think it was right they had him working with kids."
No criminal record
But Mr. Mathis, the diocese's attorney, noted that even today Father Kos has no criminal record and that no charges are pending.
"This is a man that apparently committed criminal acts wholly outside of the law and without the knowledge of the diocese," Mr. Mathis said. ". . . It is extremely difficult to identify individuals that are engaged in this type of criminal behavior.
It's not unique to Catholic priests. It permeates our society."
The Kos brothers' mother, Dolores Hosford, who lives near Houston, said she was unaware of the behavior her sons described but said, "I guess they should know. They lived with him."
Mrs. Hosford moved away from her husband and sons when Rudy was 6 and said she had no further contact until about nine years ago.
She said she hasn't heard from Father Kos in more than two months.
After learning of the brothers' comments, she repeated the support for Father Kos she has maintained throughout this "very painful" period.
"It has to be proven to me," she said, noting that in countless visits both at her home and the churches where Father Kos worked she never observed anything suspicious.
"He was a giving person to these children," she said. "If they needed shoes, he made sure they had shoes. . . . He was a very giving person to everybody, anybody. Maybe he has two personalities, three personalities. There are such things."
Mrs. Hosford said she hoped to hear from Father Kos on Christmas, especially since - for the first time since their reunion a decade ago - he forgot her Dec. 1 birthday.
And she wondered whether his tumultuous childhood, and the fact that she lost touch with him and his brothers after she and her husband separated, could have caused his alleged behavior.
She has said that her former husband shunned her when she left him and forbade her to see the children or even send them gifts.
"He just cut them out of my life," she said. "It could have a lot to do with Rudy today, feeling unwanted and no love, thinking his mother didn't want him. Sometimes mentally, these things happen in a child's mind and they end up doing weird things."
Her ex-husband recently moved from Houston to Plano but could not be reached for comment.
Experts say pedophiles typically begin as teen-agers, when their sexual identity is forming.
"The most common situation for that to develop is during baby-sitting. That's when there's no adults around to intervene," said Georgia psychiatrist A. Kenneth Fuller, co-author of The Child Molester: An Integrated Approach to Evaluation and Treatment . "Unfortunately, most child molesters don't get caught until years later."
By then, he said, most have molested repeatedly and the pattern of sexual arousal has become ingrained.
"Hard-core pedophiles," he said, "may be quiescent for a number of years, but if that truly is their sexual preference, they'll re-offend."
Dr. Fuller said that if the behavior the Kos brothers described had been dealt with effectively at the time, "maybe some of the victims from 1988 to 1992 wouldn't have been victims."
But detecting molesters is extremely tricky, "even when there's allegations," he said. "Successful child molesters come across as ordinary, if not extraordinary people."
Experts also say molesters are a diverse bunch, so there is no "profile" to provide clues.
"It's not uncommon that a child molester is very good with children, and often very good with people," said Gail Ryan, a counselor at the University of Colorado's Kempe National Center for Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect.
Though experts said that if Father Kos sexually abused boys 30 years ago and more recently, he probably also abused boys during the interim. Yet no allegations have surfaced.
Father Kos was born in Louisville, Ky., and he served as an Air Force medic from 1964 to 1968. He then moved to Dallas, earning a college degree from what is now the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.
He became a registered nurse, serving at Methodist Medical Center as coordinator of pulmonary rehabilitation from 1968 to 1977.
During that time, he married briefly and divorced. In 1977, he became the legal guardian of a boy he met at Methodist who had been seriously ill with bronchitis. That young man, now in his 20s, is not one of Father Kos' accusers.
Mr. Mathis said Father Kos' church file is "full of complimentary letters of recommendation" from his nursing days, with not a hint of problems.
Father Kos first applied in 1976 to Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving and received a psychological evaluation before being admitted. He also was evaluated repeatedly during four years of training there, Mr. Mathis said.
He added that medical records support the church's contention that it had no reason to worry about Father Kos' fitness to be a priest.
State District Judge Anne Packer, who will hear the five civil suits, has ordered those records unsealed, but Father Kos has objected. The question is pending before the Texas Supreme Court.
"I've seen no indication that there was ever any suspicion of any criminal propensity or inappropriate sexual conduct on the part of Kos " in the years before he entered the seminary, Mr. Mathis said. "Never during that entire period of time did a witness come forward."
Mark Majek, director of licensing and support at the Texas Board of Nurse Examiners, said a nursing license could be revoked for any number of infractions.
The process takes three months to a year, but first requires that someone file a formal complaint against a nurse. Father Kos' file shows no complaints or disciplinary action.
"Pretty much we've determined that anything relates to nursing, certainly any type of sexual abuse, whether it had to do with their nursing or not," Mr. Majek said. ". . . We look at it as unprofessional conduct."
Susan Brank, assistant executive officer at the California Board of Registered Nursing, said Father Kos' application for a permanent license there could be granted within weeks, pending completion of a fingerprint check.
If the agency learns about allegations of sex offenses, she said, "we would certainly want to look into the matter."
In documents filed in July, the Dallas diocese said it first learned of the alleged abuse in September 1992; Father Kos was removed the following month.
Mr. Turley contends that there is written evidence that church officials were alerted to the problem several years earlier.
Records disclosed in July show that the pastor of St. Luke's while Father Kos was assistant pastor expressed concern about his habit of having young boys stay with him.
In a letter dated May 12, 1986, the Rev. Daniel Clayton told diocesan officials that "there is an overnight guest in his room four nights out of every week on the average."
Two months later, Father Clayton wrote a letter asking Father Kos to change his ways because "I find . . . the boys and young men who stay overnight with you in your room incompatible with the way I want to live in this rectory."
Father Kos responded in a letter two days later that Father Clayton was incompetent and had no right to meddle in his private life.
Mr. Mathis dismissed the letters as indicating nothing more than a personality conflict between roommates.
Also in June 1992, the Rev. Robert Williams, who was Father Kos' assistant pastor in Ennis, documented dozens of times that he observed Father Kos having boys stay overnight in his room at St. John's.
Said Mr. Mathis: "The diocese tried to investigate when concerns were expressed, and I think the evidence showed the diocese did everything that appropriately should have been done.
"That doesn't mean that in hindsight many people weren't fooled.
But being fooled doesn't mean that you were negligent."
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