|Man Says Diocese Hid Abuse by 2nd Priest
Father of 2 Testifies in Kos Case Officials Discouraged Him from Pressing Charges
By Mark Wrolstad
Dallas Morning News
June 14, 1997
Jurors who will decide whether the Dallas Catholic Diocese is liable for a former priest's alleged sexual abuse of boys heard testimony Friday that church officials worked to keep abuse by another priest secret.
The father of two boys, who have said they were abused by two different priests from All Saints parish in North Dallas in the mid-1980s, testified that when the first boy's abuse became known, diocese officials discouraged him from pressing charges because of the scandal it would cause.
"If we prosecuted, it would bring great scandal on the church and controversy and conflict within the church parish," the father recalled being told by a top diocese official in 1984. The family asked that charges be dropped, but church officials later broke a promise to remove the priest, the man said.
Unknown to him at the time, his younger son allegedly had been abused the previous year by former priest Rudolph "Rudy" Kos.
Attorneys for 11 plaintiffs in the civil trial of Mr. Kos and the diocese are trying to show that church officials conspired to conceal child sexual abuse by Mr. Kos and that their failure to remove him sooner allowed the abuse to continue and involve other children.
Mr. Kos, 52, is accused of abusing boys as young as 9 between 1981 and 1992 while he was an assistant pastor at All Saints and at St. Luke's Catholic Church in Irving and pastor at St. John's parish in Ennis.
In an attempt to broaden their case and bolster the conspiracy allegations, the plaintiffs' attorneys have added sexual abuse accusations against other priests to their strategy.
Over continuing objections by the defense attorney for the diocese, state District Judge Anne Ashby has allowed repeated mentions of former priests Robert Peebles Jr. and William Hughes, each of whom faces his own civil trial next year.
The issue touched off another round of legal arguments Friday after the jury was sent out of the courtroom.
The diocese attorney contended that the Peebles details would be inflammatory and overwhelming to the jury, while plaintiffs' attorneys argued that the case shows the church's "pattern of concealment. " Mr. Peebles has been sued for allegedly abusing four boys. The allegations include attempted sodomy against the older son of Friday's witness.
Mr. Hughes was sued for allegedly abusing a 13-year-old girl for a year beginning in 1983 while he was an assistant pastor at St. Luke's.
The Dallas diocese also is a defendant in those two lawsuits.
Mr. Peebles had five church assignments from 1979 to 1986 and admitted in a deposition that he sexually abused seven boys; his medical treatment records indicate that he had 20 victims.
The father of the two boys took the stand Friday after his younger son, now 26, testified Thursday. The son, who described his family as intensely Catholic, said he was abused at ages 11 and 12 after being sent to Mr. Kos for counseling.
The father said Mr. Peebles abused his older son in May 1984 at age 15. The incident happened during a visit by the boy at Fort Benning, Ga., where Mr. Peebles had gone to become an Army chaplain.
The man testified he was asked by Dallas diocese officials to allow the military to discharge Mr. Peebles and keep the abuse secret rather than press charges in a court martial.
He said that the Rev. Robert Fellhauer, who was in charge of church law for the diocese, assured him that Mr. Peebles would no longer be a priest and would receive "extensive, ongoing therapy and be closely monitored. " "I remember him telling me, 'We take care of our own,' " the man said.
Chancellor Raphael Kamel, then the diocese's No. 3 official, called the abuse an isolated incident, the man testified.
"He's never done anything like this before," the man recalled being told. "It caught everybody by surprise. They felt very bad about it. " In a letter asking the Army to drop the matter, the boy's parents cited advice from child psychologist Ray McNamara that testifying "clearly . . . would be harmful to his emotional well-being. " Mr. Peebles received another Dallas church assignment within about a month and was treated by Dr. McNamara while he was also treating the boy.
Mr. Peebles is accused of abusing three other boys after that.
The psychologist also is being sued in the Peebles case.
After the trial recessed, diocese attorney Randal Mathis said the man's testimony had not hurt his client.
"There was nothing swept under the table," said Mr. Mathis. He said Mr. Peebles was evaluated by several doctors in 1984 and "was not believed to be a threat to children at the time. "
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