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  Another Priest's Records Enter Kos Case
Psychologist Destroyed Files to Keep Them from Plaintiffs, Lawyer Says

By Ed Housewright
Dallas Morning News
June 18, 1997

A psychologist who treated a Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a teenager destroyed treatment records to keep them away from plaintiffs suing the Dallas Diocese, a plaintiffs' attorney charged Tuesday.

Dr. Ray McNamara saw the Rev. Robert Peebles Jr. 84 times from 1984 to 1986, but the doctor has none of his treatment records, said Sylvia Demarest, an attorney representing three plaintiffs in a civil trial against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas and former priest Rudolph "Rudy" Kos.

An attorney for Dr. McNamara denied Ms. Demarest's allegations about destroying records.

"I think the reason we don't have the documents is because no one wants us to see what they would have contained," Ms. Demarest said after Dr. McNamara finished his testimony Tuesday.

Ms. Demarest said the testimony about Mr. Peebles shows that Mr. Kos - the principal focus so far of the six-week-old trial - was not the only Dallas priest sexually abusing youths.

She said she thinks the treatment records would have shown that Dr. McNamara knew that Mr. Peebles had abused more than one teenager and that the doctor didn't report it to church officials.

Mr. Peebles was removed as a priest in 1986 after other allegations of sexual abuse of children surfaced.

Lancaster Smith Jr., Dr. McNamara's attorney, said the doctor didn't take notes on most of the sessions with Mr. Peebles and wasn't required by law to keep the notes he did take.

"There's nothing to hide," Mr. Smith said.

The 52-year-old Mr. Kos, who has not attended the trial, is accused of abusing altar boys at three churches from 1981 to 1992.

Eleven plaintiffs are seeking $146.5 million.

Mr. Kos has already been found liable for the abuse because he has not responded to the lawsuits. The diocese maintains that it should not be held liable for Mr. Kos' conduct.

Mr. Peebles, who served with Mr. Kos at All Saints Catholic Church in North Dallas in 1981 and 1982, is a defendant in another sexual abuse case scheduled to go to trial next year. He is not a defendant in the case involving Mr. Kos.

Mr. Peebles had five church assignments from 1979 to 1986 and has admitted in a deposition that he sexually abused seven boys.

Medical treatment records indicate he sexually abused 16 youths.

Most of the testimony Tuesday involved Mr. Peebles, not Mr. Kos.

At several points, the attorney for the Dallas Diocese complained to state District Judge Anne Ashby that testimony about Mr. Peebles was irrelevant to the case against Mr. Kos.

And Mr. Smith objected several times, saying Ms. Demarest and Windle Turley, the other plaintiffs' attorney, were not giving Dr. McNamara an opportunity to answer their questions.

When Dr. McNamara would not answer their questions with a simple "yes" or "no," the plaintiffs' attorneys immediately objected to the judge that he was being nonresponsive.

"It's very difficult to answer 'yes-no' questions I think are misleading," Dr. McNamara said at one point.

The trial has been marked by heated exchanges between attorneys and witnesses.

Also on Tuesday, Ms. Demarest said Dr. McNamara created a conflict of interest by treating Mr. Peebles after he saw the 15-year-old boy Mr. Peebles is accused of sexually abusing in 1984 while he was an Army chaplain in Georgia.

Dr. McNamara told the boy's parents that having their son testify in court-martial proceedings would be emotionally harmful.

His parents ultimately wrote a letter to Army officials asking that Mr. Peebles be allowed to resign instead. He was, then he returned to Dallas where he was given an assignment as a priest within a month.

Mr. Peebles was removed as a priest in 1986 after more allegations of sexual abuse of boys and a report by a Catholic psychiatric institution in Maryland. It recommended "comprehensive inpatient treatment" for his "inappropriate sexual activity." In a letter to a Galveston doctor in 1987, Mr. Peebles, who was engaged to be married, wrote that it is "absolutely imperative that I never molest a child again. "

"As time goes on, I am more and more aware of the horrible effect it would have on my victims," Mr. Peebles wrote to Dr. Lee Emory. "First, you know that I never molested a stranger or even a casual acquaintance. There always had to be that element of trust and even adulation on the part of both the boy and his parents."

"It was practically there automatically as a priest, and now I am no longer a priest. The victims are just not as available. . . . I am still a pedophile, and I am still capable of molesting children. But I turn my eyes away immediately. "

 
 

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