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  Flores Sticks by His Story in Sex Case
Archbishop Againdenies He Knew about Priest's Sex Exploits until 2000

By J. Michael Parker
San Antonio Express-News [Texas]
December 19, 2002

For the second time this year, Archbishop Patrick Flores has publicly denied knowing of sexual misconduct by a parish priest with a woman before the woman filed a complaint in July 2000.

Archdiocesan officials acknowledged that Father Michael Kenny told a church attorney of an allegation against him but said Kenny denied the allegation at the time. They said he was told to advise the woman to contact archdiocesan officials directly but she didn't.

Two women are suing the Archdiocese of San Antonio, claiming Flores knew that Kenny had had sexual relationships with several women for years and did nothing to stop or punish him until one of the women, Jerrilyn Marie White, filed a formal complaint.

Flores suspended Kenny's priestly faculties immediately after substantiating White's allegations, also in July 2000.

The archbishop said earlier this year he would push for Kenny's canonical removal from the clerical state.

Earlier this year, Kenny admitted having long-term relationships with both women and several others, but he said then that he hadn't told Flores until White made her formal complaint.

In a new deposition Monday, Kenny said the second complainant, Julia Phelps, had written him a letter in August 1993, accusing him of sexual misconduct and threatening to take her accusations to the news media unless he paid her money.

He said he took it first to Thomas Drought, the archdiocese's attorney, who advised him to take it to Flores.

Kenny testified he met alone with Flores, adding: "I either read (the letter) or he read it himself and handed it back to me. He asked me to have her contact him or the chancery office."

The suspended priest said he denied the allegations when he met with Flores.

Kenny testified that he also notified Father William Collins, who at the time headed a committee charged with investigating sexual misconduct allegations against archdiocesan priests. He said Collins, too, told him to ask Phelps to contact the archdiocese.

Phelps has said she contacted Flores, who asked if she had any proof and told her it would be her word against Kenny's.

In a statement Tuesday, Flores stood by his earlier declaration.

"I did not know, in August of 1993, that Father Michael Kenny had a sexual affair with Miss Julia Phelps, or any other woman. Further, I have no memory of the meeting referred to in the Dec. 16 deposition of Father Michael Kenny," Flores' statement said.

He reiterated that he first learned of the allegations against Kenny in 2000 when White filed a complaint against Kenny in a church court. He said he immediately suspended Kenny's priestly faculties after the priest admitted having an affair with White.

Archdiocesan communications director Pat Rodgers said Kenny sought Drought's legal advice in August 1993 "in responding to an accusation of sexual misconduct and a threat of blackmail. In that meeting, Father Kenny denied the charges made."

He said Drought told Kenny he should not give in to Phelps' threat and directed him to tell her that any such complaint should be made directly to the archdiocese.

"Subsequent to what seemed to be an effort to blackmail Father Kenny, Ms. Phelps did not contact the archbishop, chancery personnel or archdiocesan legal counsel with any complaint, credible or otherwise, against Father Kenny," Rodgers said.

Houston attorney J. Douglas Sutter, who represents White and Phelps, said Wednesday he plans to seek permission to take another deposition from Flores early in January.

 
 

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