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  Catholic Archdiocese Expects More Charges against Priest

By Phil Anderson
Topeka Capital-Journal
June 8, 2002

Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas officials said Friday they anticipate charges will be filed in Douglas County against a Roman Catholic priest who was charged the day before in Nemaha County with taking indecent liberties with a child.

On Friday afternoon, officials in the Douglas County district attorney's office said they were reviewing law enforcement reports, but no charges had been filed against the Rev. Dennis Schmitz, who previously had served at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at The University of Kansas.

On May 2, Schmitz, 41, was relieved of his pastoral duties at St. Gregory Catholic Church in Marysville and St. Malachy Catholic Church in Beattie by Archbishop James Patrick Keleher following accusations of possible sexual misconduct. The alleged misconduct involved a male teenager, according to The Leaven, the archdiocesan newspaper.

Archdiocese officials reported allegations to the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation worked on the case and turned its findings over to prosecutors in Douglas and Nemaha counties.

The Nemaha County complaint alleges that Schmitz engaged in lewd fondling or touching of a 15-year-old between January and August 1999 at the S&S Ranch near Seneca, of which Schmitz is a co-owner.

"We feel awful for this young person and for anyone who ever may have been abused by a trusted adult," Keleher said in a statement Friday. "The archdiocese will continue to cooperate with civil authorities to determine the validity of these claims against Father Dennis Schmitz."

"Claims like these break the hearts of every good person who works with children and young adults," Keleher said. "God bless all those people --- priests, religious, parents, teachers and counselors --- who remain solidly committed to their God, to their faith and to the proper development of our young resources. I pray for them every day."

Schmitz's first court appearance is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Nemaha County Courthouse in Seneca.

Schmitz' attorney, Stephen G. Mirakian, of Kansas City, Mo., was out of town Friday. However, Marilyn Keller, an attorney who is working with Mirakian on the case, said Schmitz will plead innocent.

 
 

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