Bishop Accountability

Dallas Resources – August–December 1998

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Ex-Dallas Pastor Takes Arkansas Job
Monsignor's Comments About Parents in Kos Case Led to Resignation

By Ed Housewright
Dallas Morning News
August 7, 1998

Monsignor Rehkemper, who was a top diocese official 11 years when former priest Rudolph "Rudy" Kos sexually abused boys, will temporarily head the Arkansas church while its pastor recovers from surgery, officials said.

After leaving All Saints, Monsignor Rehkemper spent about six months studying in Rome before returning to the Dallas area in retirement, said Bronson Havard, a spokesman for the Dallas diocese.

Monsignor Rehkemper, 74, was chosen to lead the 285-member Our Lady of Good Hope in President Clinton's hometown because he was available, said the Rev. Francis Malone of the Little Rock, Ark., diocese. He would not give any other reason why Monsignor Rehkemper was selected.

"The invitation was made, and he accepted," Monsignor Malone said. "If I had any reservations about his tenure as a priest - he's been a priest 49 years - we certainly would not have assigned him any place."

Monsignor Rehkemper, who starts at the Hope church Saturday, could not be reached for comment.

In an interview with The Dallas Morning News last August, Monsignor Rehkemper said that Mr. Kos' sexual assault victims and their parents share responsibility for the abuse.

"No one ever says anything about what the role of the parents was in all this," Monsignor Rehkemper said in a one-hour interview.

He added that the plaintiffs, who were as young as 9 when the abuse began, "knew what was right and what was wrong. Anybody who reaches the age of reason shares responsibility for what they do."

Ten days after The News reported his comments, Monsignor Rehkemper resigned from All Saints. The diocese received dozens of calls and letters opposing Monsignor Rehkemper's remarks, Bishop Charles V. Grahmann said at the time.

During Mr. Kos' civil trial last summer, State District Judge Anne Ashby threatened to hold Monsignor Rehkemper in contempt of court for failing to answer questions from plaintiffs' attorneys.

He was the diocese's vicar general, or No. 2 official, from 1974 to 1992 when he became pastor of All Saints. Mr. Kos sexually abused boys at three churches in the Dallas area from 1981 to 1992.

Monsignor Malone would not comment on Monsignor Rehkemper's tenure in Dallas.

Monsignor Rehkemper's appointment as administrator, which denotes a temporary position, was announced in the current edition of the Arkansas Catholic newspaper, Monsignor Malone said. It was mentioned along with several other appointments and did not refer to Monsignor Rehkemper's time in Dallas.

"I have not heard any reaction one way or another" to his appointment, Monsignor Malone said. "I think people will be happy to have a priest in town."

Because Monsignor Rehkemper is retired, the Dallas diocese has "no control over where he goes or what he does," Mr. Havard said.

"He's a priest in good standing," he said. "Why Arkansas would call upon him, you need to check with Arkansas. The bishop is free to make a decision."

Our Lady of Good Hope is the only Catholic church in Hope, a town of 9,600 in southwest Arkansas.

"It's not a position of great responsibility," Mr. Havard said. "It's in a small town on a temporary basis. It's not like running a diocese. I've been to Hope. I don't think there are that many Catholics there."

He said Mr. Rehkemper is in good health and "can still help out."

In July of last year, 11 plaintiffs won a record $ 119.6 million judgment against the diocese and Mr. Kos in a civil trial.

Last month, eight of the original plaintiffs and an additional plaintiff settled with the diocese for $ 23.4 million. In March, the three other plaintiffs settled for $ 7.5 million. Mr. Kos is destitute and is not expected to pay anything.

Also in March, Mr. Kos was convicted in criminal court of child molestation and sentenced to life in prison.

[Photo Caption: Robert Rehkemper]

Diocese to Sell St. Ann's to Pay Kos Settlement
School's Backers Fear Impact on Little Mexico

By Ed Housewright
Dallas Morning News
August 11, 1998

The Dallas Catholic Diocese has decided to sell the historic St. Ann's school in the Little Mexico area to pay for the Kos sex-abuse settlement, angering supporters who have worked for six months to try to save it.

"It disappoints me that this must happen, because St. Ann was a focus of cultural pride to many in the Hispanic community," Bishop Charles V. Grahmann said in a letter Friday to the head of a citizens' group. "However, I have no choice but to reduce the indebtedness that we have incurred."

In addition to St. Ann's, the diocese plans to try to sell all of its 10 to 20 undeveloped properties to pay its more than $ 10 million share of the settlement of cases involving former priest Rudolph "Rudy" Kos, said diocese chief financial officer Mike Weis .

St. Ann's, at 2514 Harry Hines Blvd., is worth far more than the other properties and could bring $ 4 million to $ 5 million, he said. Over the years, the diocese has received many inquiries about the St. Ann's property and could have a contract in the next month or two, he said.

"That one certainly won't solve the problem," Mr. Weis said. "But that is the most valuable, and it will be a big step in that direction."

Board members of a citizens' group formed in February to try to save St. Ann's had hoped to raise money to buy the building themselves. They said that may not be possible because the diocese wants its bid by Wednesday.

"Once again, the diocese is making the Mexican community pay," said Ronnie Villareal of the nonprofit Guadalupe Social Center Community Development Corp. "They're making us pay the ultimate price: the sale and possible demolition of the school and property around it.

"My Catholic faith is strong enough to withstand this disappointment, but I don't know about other people."

St. Ann's is used by the downtown Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe as an outreach center offering English classes, mentoring programs, domestic-violence counseling and parenting classes. It was built in 1927 as an elementary school for boys and girls and later expanded to include a girls' high school.

"This is a very sacred historical, cultural and ongoing educational institution," said board member Helen Cedillo, whose two sisters went to school at St. Ann's. "It's centrally located, and it takes care of the needs of all the people. We feel we are planting seeds there to make this a better Dallas."

Preservationists say St. Ann's is about the only gathering place left from the early years of the neighborhood known as Little Mexico. In addition to attending school there, many members of the community went there for social events such as dancing, bingo, and even skating in the auditorium.

St. Ann's supporters are planning a "living rosary" prayer vigil at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the school.

"We are asking the entire community of Dallas, particularly those familiar with the history and significance of St. Ann's, to come out on Tuesday, open your pocketbooks and donate what you can so that we can make an offer to buy her back from the diocese," Mr. Villareal said in a written statement issued by the Guadalupe Social Center Community Development Corp.

Ms. Cedillo said she and other St. Ann's supporters "have all the love and respect for our bishop."

"We've been praying for him all along because I know he's been under a great deal of stress," she said. "He's done everything humanly possible at this point to make things right."

But she said she was surprised at Bishop Grahmann's letter saying the sale of St. Ann's was unavoidable. She said she thought other properties could be sold instead.

In a letter to the bishop, she and other community development board members said: "What you have done is not just. . . . You are saddened, but our hearts are broken - for when this last institution goes, so goes our history in Dallas."

In his previous letter to board members, Bishop Grahmann said: "I am committed to serving the Hispanic community, and we are proud of the many initiatives we have taken. . . . I hope you will understand our dilemma in this matter."

The diocese had to mortgage Bishop Lynch and Bishop Dunne high schools, the chancery, the bishop's residence and its undeveloped properties to pay its share of the Kos settlement and an earlier settlement of sex-abuse claims against two other priests, Mr. Weis said. The diocese will pay more than $ 1 million a year in interest if it can't pay off the mortgages, he said.

"It was quite clear to anyone looking, including the banks, that the only way we could repay the debt was from the sale of properties," Mr. Weis said. "We don't have the cash flow to repay that debt and the interest year after year."

Last year, 11 plaintiffs won a record $ 119.6 million judgment against the diocese and Mr. Kos in a civil trial. In the last four months, plaintiffs have settled with the diocese for $ 30.9 million, with insurers paying the majority.

In March, Mr. Kos was convicted in criminal court of child molestation and sentenced to life in prison.

[Photo Captions: 1. Charles V. Grahmann. 2. Rudolph Kos.]

2 Community Groups Lose Bid
Catholic Diocese Accepts Higher Offer

By Ed Housewright
Dallas Morning News
August 14, 1998

Dallas Catholic Diocese Bishop Charles V. Grahmann notified two Hispanic community groups Thursday that their bids to buy the historic St. Ann's school in Little Mexico were too low and that he was accepting a "substantially higher" offer.

In letters to the Mexican Cultural Center and the Guadalupe Social Center Community Development Corp., the bishop did not name the buyer, give the purchase price or reveal the buyer's plans for the site.

The Mexican Cultural Center had offered $ 2.2 million for St. Ann's school on Harry Hines Boulevard. The Guadalupe group had bid $ 2 million.

Officials from both organizations said they were disappointed not to be allowed to save the school, where English instruction and parenting classes are offered.

In letters faxed to the two groups, Bishop Grahmann said he had "done everything possible to prevent" the sale of St. Ann's.

"Certainly, I am sympathetic with those in the Hispanic community who would like to preserve this focus of their cultural pride," he wrote. "However, we must move as fast as possible to meet the bank's requirements for ending our indebtedness."

The diocese is selling St. Ann's and 10 to 20 undeveloped properties to pay its $ 10 million share of the settlements of sex-abuse cases involving former priest Rudolph "Rudy" Kos.

"It's very emotional," said Clara Borja Hinojosa, executive director of the Mexican Cultural Center. "We wanted to enrich our community. We have to be gracious and accept things, but it's hard to do that."

Both she and a representative of the Guadalupe development corporation said they wish the bishop had given them a chance to negotiate and increase their bids.

"I feel like we were tossed aside," said Cesar Hernandez, a financial adviser to the Guadalupe group. "It's very discouraging. It's hard to say what the bishop is thinking when most of his congregation is of Hispanic descent."

The diocese has mortgaged Bishop Lynch and Bishop Dunne high schools, the chancery, the bishop's residence and undeveloped land to pay its share of the Kos settlement. Its interest payments would be more than $ 1 million a year if it can't pay off the mortgages, chief financial officer Mike Weis has said.

St. Ann's is worth far more than the diocese's other properties and could bring $ 4 million to $ 5 million, Mr. Weis said Monday.

Newt Walker, a real estate broker who specializes in the area around St. Ann's, said the value is closer to $ 3 million, though "in this frenzy of a market, someone might be prepared to overpay for it."

The area has recently been developed with apartments, office buildings and hotels and is near the new arena site.

The diocese "is entering into the final stages of ironing out an agreement" with the purchaser, spokesman Bronson Havard said. He would not say how many total bids the diocese received.

"There have been many inquiries about that property from many substantial sources," Mr. Havard said.

The Mexican Cultural Center had made elaborate plans for St. Ann's, including preparation of architectural drawings for its renovation, Ms. Hinojosa said.

The group envisioned classrooms, a library, an art gallery, a music conservatory, a museum, a restaurant and arts and craft shops. The 17,000-square-foot building would be developed as "La Casa de la Cultura" (the House of Culture), according to the group's material.

Ms. Hinojosa said she began fund-raising efforts several months ago in Mexico for the renovation of St. Ann's. The University of Mexico had offered to donate books, magazines and newspapers, she said.

"We wanted to enrich our community," Ms. Hinojosa said. "This was the ideal place.

Mr. Hernandez said the Guadalupe group wanted to maintain St. Ann's as a social outreach center but also lease parts of the building to other organizations.

"There's going to be a lot of angry people," Mr. Hernandez said of the diocese's decision. "I don't think they ever took it [the group's proposal] seriously."

Last year, 11 plaintiffs won a record $ 119.6 million judgment against the diocese and Mr. Kos in a civil trial. In the last four months, plaintiffs have settled with the diocese for $ 30.9 million, with insurers paying the majority.

In March, Mr. Kos was convicted in criminal court of child molestation and sentenced to life in prison.

Process Starts to Make St. Ann's a Landmark
Diocese's Plan to Pay Settlement in Child-Abuse Case May Be Affected

By Michael Saul
Dallas Morning News
September 2, 1998

The city's Landmark Commission agreed Tuesday to begin the process of declaring St. Ann's school an historic landmark.

The unanimous decision came after the panel listened to impassioned pleas from the building's supporters and concerns from its owner, the Catholic Diocese of Dallas.

"How do you forget a place where you learned to speak English? How do you forget a place where you learned to read and write?" said Ron Villareal, 37, one of about a dozen speakers supporting the landmark designation. "How do you forget a place where you learned your faith and you lived it on a daily basis?"

The building, at 2514 Harry Hines Blvd., is one of the last vestiges of a once-thriving neighborhood known as Little Mexico. It became a controversial focal point after the diocese decided to sell it to pay off $ 11.3 million in debt resulting from the settlement of child sex-abuse lawsuits.

William E. Cothrum, a consultant for the diocese, unsuccessfully urged the commission to delay its vote until next month. Mr. Cothrum said the diocese hopes to continue an open dialogue with St. Ann's supporters.

"The diocese wants to say that they recognize an historical, spiritual and cultural significance of this facility and do believe that there may be ways that we can find a win-win situation for everybody," he said.

The Landmark Commission's decision establishes a moratorium on any permits to demolish or alter St. Ann's. The building's supporters now must prepare several reports before the commission formally votes on whether to grant St. Ann's historical status. If approved, the proposal would then be sent to the Plan Commission and ultimately the City Council for approval. No exact timetable has been determined.

St. Ann's supporters say the building should not be sold to developers because it holds special significance to the Mexican-American community and is a vital part of Dallas history. Some call it Dallas' Ellis Island.

Last week, the diocese announced that it would delay selling St. Ann's for at least 30 days to give the preservation groups more time to offer higher bids. The diocese has an offer from a developer for $ 4 million, officials said. The Mexican Cultural Center has offered $ 2.2 million, and the Guadalupe Social Center Community Development Corp. has made a $ 2 million offer.

Some of the building's advocates said they believe the diocese has misled the public and shown a painful lack of respect for the Hispanic community - allegations that diocese officials deny.

"We would not be here before you today if they had even attempted to negotiate a fair price on the property. They have not given us any respect," said Ronnie Villareal, 60, Ron Villareal's father.

"They have looked at us like a bunch of Mexicans getting together doing a lot of hollering and screaming, and in the end bowing [our] heads and doing what the church tells us. No more. No more."

The supporters erupted in cheers and song after the commissioners voted.

If St. Ann's receives the landmark designation, the property would be rezoned with a historical overlay. That typically makes it tougher for developers to sell property, or command as much money for it, because the owner would have to apply for special permits for nearly all development.

If the property is not sold, the diocese said it would face roughly $ 80,000 a month in principal and interest costs associated with the court settlements. The diocese currently faces interest payments of more than $ 2,200 a day on the debt.

In response, the diocese may have to halt construction of churches and schools for five years, decrease the number of church personnel and discontinue scholarships at area schools, officials said. The diocese is also considering selling the chancery building.

Lisa LeMaster, a spokeswoman for the diocese, said church officials share the goals of St. Ann's supporters. The trick, she said, is finding a way to both preserve the building and meet the diocese's financial obligations. Ms. LeMaster said the diocese has not decided whether it will appeal the moratorium imposed Tuesday.

Following the meeting, Ms. LeMaster defended Bishop Charles Grahmann's commitment to the Hispanic community and said he was personally frustrated with the public battle.

"The bishop has done more for this Hispanic community than any bishop in the history of the diocese," Ms. LeMaster said. "There is a long list of what he personally accomplished and were it not for Rudy Kos, that's what you would be talking about."

Last year, 11 plaintiffs won a record $ 119.6 million judgment against the diocese and Mr. Kos in a civil trial. In the last several months, plaintiffs have settled with the diocese for $ 30.9 million, with insurers paying the majority. In the spring, Mr. Kos was sentenced to life in prison after a jury convicted him of seven of eight counts of child sexual abuse.

Supporters said they believe it's unfair that the Hispanic community must suffer because the diocese failed to protect its children from sexual predators. St. Ann's, many said, represents the heart and soul of the community.

"Through decades of inattention and neglect on the part of the city, what was once a thriving neighborhood, what was once the heart of the Hispanic community here in Dallas, was left to fall by the wayside," said City Council member John Loza. "St. Ann's is part of what is left of Little Mexico. It is worth preserving. It is worth saving."

Clergy-Abuse Victims, Kin Discuss Faith
Conference Participants Look for Ways to Heal

By Gayle Reaves
Dallas Morning News
September 27, 1998

[Names of Kos survivor and his parents redacted at the survivor's request.]

The meeting had the feeling of a revival - tearful testimonies, passionate words about the church and spirituality, an occasional "amen" from the audience.

There was this, for instance, from [Redacted]: "I think the institution is rotten to the core."

Mr. [Redacted] was speaking about his experiences with the Catholic Church. And his remarks Saturday drew hearty applause from the audience at the sixth National Linkup Conference.

The conference was indeed a revival of a sort. The members had gathered at the Paramount Hotel in downtown Dallas to revive their faith in themselves and, possibly, heal the pain of sexual abuse by clergy members of any religion. That's the mission of the Linkup group.

Faith in God, or the church, is a different matter entirely. That became particularly clear during a panel discussion about the case of Rudolph "Rudy" Kos, a former Dallas priest.

Mr. Kos is now serving a life sentence on seven counts of child sexual abuse. In 1997, a Dallas County civil jury also found the Dallas Catholic Diocese grossly negligent in its handling of Mr. Kos. Jurors awarded a record $ 119 million in damages to his victims and their families; plaintiffs agreed earlier this year to settle with the diocese for $ 30.9 million.

Gail Pawlik and [Redacted] and [Redacted], parents of Kos victims, and victim [Redacted] talked about their anger toward church officials.

For four months after her youngest son told his parents of the abuse, "we got the runaround" from the diocese, Ms. Pawlik said.

When the diocese finally sent someone to talk to them, she said, "the man turned out to be an insurance adjustor."

Five years later, she said, although Bishop Charles V. Grahmann promised in the settlement to apologize to victims and their families, "I have not seen the whites of the eyes of that bishop."

No representative of the diocese spoke up at the conference. In an interview later, diocese spokeswoman Lisa LeMaster said the Kos settlement "included a very public apology by the bishop." She also said that he has apologized in writing to the plaintiffs and their families.

"I understand her pain, but the church needs to move forward," Ms. LeMaster said.

Ms. Pawlik said she stands by her Catholic faith, despite what happened to her family, despite the diocese's inaction and despite letters from other church members telling her to leave.

"If you have rotten priests . . . you don't throw out the church Jesus Christ died to found," she said. Ms. Pawlik urged people, when their healing allowed them, to "get back to the sacraments."

But it was clear that many in the room had in fact left their churches.

A Canadian woman said thousands of Indian children in her country have been abused by priests.

"If the Catholic Church doesn't clean up their ranks, who can we trust to administer the sacraments?" another audience member asked.

Mr. [Redacted] said during his presentation that his family had been active Catholics. That was before they learned of the abuse of their sons and before the Catholic Church broke promises about what would be done in response to the abuse, he said.

Now, he said, "I get pretty tired of hearing all the God stuff."

He doesn't care about apologies, he said, because the church "is all about money and power."

"You've got to get their money and take their power away" by exposing abusers and church inaction, he said.

Ms. LeMaster declined to comment on any allegations made at the conference concerning the Dallas diocese.

"These are cases that after a lot of work were finally settled," she said. "It doesn't do any good from our perspective to go backward and retry the cases and the conversations. Mistakes in judgment have been admitted."

When exchanges between audience members and Ms. Pawlik grew heated over whether to stay in the church, one man rose to remind the group of a psychologist's advice earlier in the day.

Dr. Ron Garber had urged Linkup members to allow abuse survivors to find their own paths to healing rather than insisting on one model.

He said that although it helps the healing process if survivors can forgive their abusers, not everyone reaches that point.

One man in the audience said he had been abused by two priests - but nonetheless became a priest himself.

Despite doubts and bitterness over his abuse, he said, the Catholic Church is vital to him.

"This is my heritage, and I'll be damned if I let them rob me of my heritage," he said.

[Photo Caption: (The Dallas Morning News: Judy Walgren) [Redacted] (right), whose son, [Redacted], was sexually abused by Rudolph "Rudy" Kos, discusses the Catholic Church.]

Priest Accused of Molesting Teens Leaves Bonham Parish
He's at Therapy Center But Hasn't Been Charged

By Brooks Egerton
Dallas Morning News
October 24, 1998

A Dallas Catholic Diocese priest accused of molesting teenagers has left his parish and entered a therapy center that treats sexual, chemical, financial and other addictions.

The Rev. Jose Saldana moved a few weeks ago from his parish in Bonham, about 70 miles north of Dallas, Deacon Joseph Culling said Friday. He said the priest told parishioners that he was going to a clinic for treatment of medical problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Father Saldana, 47, declined to comment from the center in St. Louis, which does not treat the medical problems he described. He isn't known to be facing any criminal or civil charges - only allegations made to and scrutinized by diocesan personnel.

Diocesan spokeswoman Lisa LeMaster wouldn't discuss those allegations. She said Father Saldana was granted a leave of absence and retains all his priestly powers.

"He said the burden of scrutiny caused him to ask for personal leave and that the stress had weakened his medical condition," Ms. LeMaster said. A letter to Bishop Charles V. Grahmann said that "his intention was to remove himself from this diocese" permanently, she added.

Mr. Culling said he didn't believe the abuse allegations, which date to Father Saldana's mid-1980s service in Ferris. But he also said he didn't expect Father Saldana - at least the seventh Dallas Diocese priest to be accused of molestation in recent years - to return.

"Everybody is pretty supportive of him" in Bonham, where about 200 people attend Mass at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, he said. "They hated to see him go."

Stephanie Reiter, director of religious education at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in the Ellis County town of Ferris, said a young man told her this year that Father Saldana had abused him more than a decade ago. She said she referred the man to diocese officials and that they investigated for months before the priest left his Bonham job.

"They actually used the system they said they were going to use" in the wake of the sexual abuse lawsuit against the diocese and former priest Rudy Kos, Ms. Reiter said. She said the young man who made the allegations against Father Saldana has sought help in paying for therapy and does not want to be identified.

Diocese officials, while refusing to discuss Father Saldana's current situation, acknowledge that they knew about another molestation allegation against him while he was in Ferris. They have said they could not take action because that alleged victim, 15 at the time, would not cooperate with an investigation.

His mother said she told the officials that she feared the priest had abused her son. And according to testimony heard outside the jury's presence in the Kos civil trial last year, one of the woman's relatives also reported the same suspicions in writing to the Rev. Robert Rehkemper, then the diocese's No. 2 official.

The relative, Lupe Juarez, testified that she had threatened in her note to go to the media if Father Saldana wasn't removed. Monsignor Rehkemper, she said, soon called her and "he stated - I remember two things. One was that maybe he - this priest - had been doing these things before, but that he wasn't doing them anymore, and that they couldn't move him from there because they didn't have anyone to replace him with."

Monsignor Rehkemper also said "that he had talked to another person in Ferris and that she liked Father Saldana and she didn't think that any of these things that we were saying about him were true," Ms. Juarez testified. "And he, you know, kind of tended to believe her."

Monsignor Rehkemper, now working in a small Arkansas parish, could not be reached for comment Friday. After the Kos civil trial ended last year with the largest clergy-abuse judgment in history, the monsignor was forced to resign from a North Dallas church because of remarks he made in an interview with The Dallas Morning News .

Mr. Kos' victims and their parents, the monsignor said, were partly to blame for the former priest's crimes. Mr. Kos is now serving a life sentence in state prison; he is the only one of the seven priests accused of molestation to have faced criminal charges.

Ms. Juarez testified that after she spoke with Monsignor Rehkemper, Father Saldana was transferred to another parish and the state Child Protective Services agency investigated. CPS officials have said they have no record of such an investigation and don't retain records for long if an inquiry substantiates nothing.

In an interview with The News , the mother of the 15-year-old said her son was suicidal after an encounter with Father Saldana and wouldn't talk to anyone about what had happened.

Her son, she said, had found himself alone at the rectory with the priest after being summoned for what was supposed to be a meeting of altar boys. After later calling her in a panic for a ride home, he jumped in the car, briefly described waking up on the floor and finding evidence of possible abuse, then refused to elaborate, the mother said.

The youth, now in his late 20s, is serving a state prison sentence for molesting a girl. He did not respond to a written interview request.

In an interview, the youth's brother said Father Saldana sometimes showed movies - at least one of them sexually explicit - to groups of altar boys at the Ferris rectory. The priest would lie on his bed wearing only underwear or a robe, he said.

The brother said he was uncomfortable at the gatherings and quit going after other boys found a sex toy in the room.

Father Saldana has served in nearly a dozen parishes - in the Dallas, Fort Worth and Tyler dioceses - since being ordained a priest 20 years ago.

In addition to Bonham and Ferris, they include St. Cecilia, St. Augustine and St. Pius X in Dallas; St. Michael in Mount Pleasant; St. Luke in Irving; St. Joseph in Rhineland; St. Patrick Cathedral in Fort Worth; and Good Shepherd in Garland.

[Photo Caption: Jose Saldana . . . the allegations against the priest, shown in 1978, stem from the mid-1980s.]

Diocese Criticizes New Suits
Lawyer Says He Never Indicated Legal Action Done

By Ed Housewright
Dallas Morning News
November 6, 1998

The Dallas Catholic Diocese on Thursday criticized two more sex-abuse lawsuits filed by the attorney who reached a record settlement in several similar suits against the diocese this summer.

The diocese is "surprised and disappointed" by the suits filed by Windle Turley because "the Church negotiated in good faith" to settle the other suits involving former priest Rudolph "Rudy" Kos, according to a church press release.

Mr. Turley indicated during mediation that he had no other lawsuits against the diocese, the release said. In addition, the diocese is unable to make loan payments to cover its share of the $23.4 million settlement reached in July, it said.

Mr. Turley responded that he never promised not to file more lawsuits against the diocese.

"The Diocese seems to be under the mistaken impression that other victims of abuse were somehow settled out when the initial Plaintiffs settled their case," Mr. Turley said in a written statement. "This, of course, is not true."

Both lawsuits, filed last Friday, name the diocese as a defendant, saying it failed to protect the plaintiffs from sexual abuse. One, filed on behalf of two Ellis County men, also names Mr. Kos. The other, on behalf of a Dallas County man, names former priest Robert Peebles.

"These three victims, all of who have been known to the Diocese for years, have every right to assert their own injury claims just as they have done," Mr. Turley's statement said. "During these years the Diocese never took the initiative to deal with their injuries.

"It is truly unfortunate that the Diocese . . . will not face up to the reality that it has more victims in need of care and counseling. The Diocesan attitude makes the Bishops apology ring hollow."

Mr. Turley said he will "continue to represent victims of institutional abuse in spite of the Diocese's personal attacks" on him.

In July, the diocese and Mr. Turley reached a $23.4 million settlement of sex-abuse claims against Mr. Kos by nine young men. They alleged that they had been sexually abused from 1981 to 1992 by Mr. Kos at churches in Dallas, Irving and Ennis.

The settlement resulted from a civil jury award of $119.6 million to the plaintiffs last year in the largest clergy-abuse judgment in history. With interest, the judgment grew to about $175 million before the settlement. Under the terms of the agreement, the diocese will pay $7.25 million, and four insurers will pay the rest.

In February, the diocese reached a $5 million settlement of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by two former priests who served at the same time as Mr. Kos. The diocese's share is $1.1 million. One of those priests was Mr. Peebles, a defendant in the most recent suit.

The diocese said it had not seen copies of the two newest suits.

"The lawsuits have been presented without offering the diocese any factual information about the allegations, even though the diocesan attorneys have repeatedly requested it," diocesan spokeswoman Lisa LeMaster said in the press release.

The church has asked its insurance companies to work with Mr. Turley to "resolve these issues," Ms. LeMaster said. "Our prayers continue to be with all victims of abuse. Our hope has been that this terrible chapter in our history could be brought to an end."

The diocese can't make its loan payments on the Kos settlement because it has been unable to sell some property, the press release said.

Diocesan officials have wanted to sell the St. Ann's school site in the old Little Mexico community on Harry Hines Boulevard. But the prospect of historic designation has decreased the property's value and scared off potential buyers, church officials have said.

A community group has sought historic designation to save the building, and it offered the diocese $900,000 for the property. A developer had offered $4 million but withdrew the offer because historic designation would limit use of the property, church officials said.

Priest Accused of Abuse Still Works with Youths
Diocese Vows Action
Aide Says Cleric to Comply

By Brooks Egerton
Dallas Morning News
November 13, 1998

A nationally known priest accused of sexual abuse has defied orders to end his public ministry and not work with young people, a Dallas Morning News investigation shows.

Dallas Catholic Diocese officials acknowledged the findings and vowed swift action against the Rev. Kenneth Roberts, an author and multimedia evangelist who has built an extensive Internet presence and last year started an online club for young Catholics contemplating religious careers. He also has been moderating a Catholic discussion group for America Online and hosting radio and TV programs.

Dallas Bishop Charles V. Grahmann has demanded that Father Roberts stop his Internet, TV and radio work immediately, diocesan spokeswoman Lisa LeMaster said. She said the diocese is checking reports that he has celebrated public Masses.

If the reports are verified, "a suspension could come as early as Friday," Ms. LeMaster said Thursday evening. That would turn restrictions on his work, implemented in the mid-1990s, into a ban on exercising any priestly powers.

Father Roberts, 68, declined to comment, saying by e-mail that he was suffering from a high blood pressure attack. His spokeswoman, Ann Waters, said he had not knowingly violated diocesan orders and earlier ended his far-reaching public speaking career when told to.

"He desperately wants to serve the church," she said. "He'll be obedient."

Ms. Waters said that Father Roberts denies sexual misconduct allegations made against him in the last decade by people in the St. Louis and Peoria, Ill., areas. He can't confirm or deny molestation allegations that date to his late-1960s pastoral work in the Dallas area, she said, because he suffered from alcohol-related blackouts and "temporary amnesia" then.

Dallas diocesan officials acknowledge making payments to two of Father Roberts' male accusers. None of the allegations has resulted in civil or criminal charges.

Father Roberts has been a Dallas diocesan priest since ordination in 1966 but has operated, often unsupervised, from a suburban St. Louis base for most of the time since then.

He was forced out of Fort Worth and Garland parishes in the late 1960s and went to St. Louis for psychiatric treatment, former parishioners said.

Father Roberts has been a shining light to conservative Catholics around the country, some of whom have seen the church's pedophilia crisis as the result of liberalism and lack of obedience to the Vatican. The priest's latest book, 1997's Nobody Calls It Sin Anymore , urges readers to resist the devil with a back-to-basics obedience of the Ten Commandments.

News that he has been accused of abuse "is going to be earth-shattering to a lot of people," said Stephen Brady, president of a national group of orthodox Catholics called Roman Catholic Faithful.

The group recently announced a campaign - named for St. Maria Goretti, a girl canonized after a rapist killed her - to pressure U.S. bishops to disclose all abuse claims they've settled.

Father Roberts has become well known for publicizing the Bosnian community of Medjugorje, where pilgrims have flocked for years since some children reported seeing visions of the Virgin Mary. He has produced audiotapes, videotapes, books and magazine articles toward this end and has served as spiritual leader to pilgrims visiting Medjugorje.

The Dallas Diocese says it has not contacted the various outlets associated with Father Roberts' work.

The diocese says it made its first payment to a Roberts accuser in 1994, providing $ 8,900 for therapeutic expenses to someone in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Officials would not discuss details of that case.

After that payment, diocesan officials recalled Father Roberts from St. Louis and had him help out at Holy Family Catholic Church in Irving - his first parish post in two decades. He was ordered to get permission for all public speaking engagements and not to work with adolescents or men younger than 30.

Several months later, in late 1995, Bishop Grahmann granted Father Roberts a medical retirement and further restricted his faculties. He was told to end all public ministry, not to say Mass in public and not to administer the sacraments except in emergencies, diocesan officials say.

That action came after a complaint by Stuart Douglass, who had been an altar boy for Father Roberts at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Fort Worth. Earlier this year, Mr. Douglass received a $ 30,000 out-of-court settlement from the Dallas Diocese, which included Fort Worth parishes during Father Roberts' tenure there.

Church officials in Dallas said they made no payment in connection with a third abuse allegation, which dates to 1989 and the Diocese of Peoria. Parishioners said Father Roberts spoke to Catholic high school students there at the time.

Father Roberts, a native of England, was abused as a child by a caretaker, his spokeswoman said. He worked as an airline and ship steward before training for the priesthood.

His connection to the Dallas diocese began on board the Queen Elizabeth, where a passenger named Thomas Gorman - the late bishop of Dallas - gave him encouragement. Later, the bishop agreed to sponsor him in seminary training.

Father Roberts spent about a year at his first parish job, in Fort Worth. Mr. Douglass said he took him and other junior high-age boys on various outings, including a camping trip complete with beer, and molested him for months.

Mr. Douglass said his mother knew he was uncomfortable about something, but he couldn't bring himself to explain: "I didn't know what to say, and who would believe me anyway? I was a kid."

Mr. Douglass said he ultimately showed his mother a pornographic movie theater he had visited with Father Roberts. She complained to another priest, and Father Roberts was transferred to Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Garland.

"The kids loved him so much that we couldn't find anything wrong with him," said former Garland parishioner Bob Striler. He and other members of his family said they saw no evidence of sexual misconduct.

But something happened - church officials would never say what, Mr. Striler said - and Father Roberts was removed from his assistant pastor's job within a year. That silence led the Strilers to leave the Catholic Church.

Today, Mr. Striler urges Catholic leaders to come clean on the subject of clergy abuse. Otherwise, he said, "the church is going to fall apart, piece by piece, million-dollar settlement by million-dollar settlement."

[Photo captions: 1. (Special to The Dallas Morning News: Karen Pulfer Focht) The Rev. Kenneth Roberts shown in a 1993 visit to a Memphis, Tenn., religious school, has built an extensive presence on the Internet. 2. Father Roberts on his Web page. ]

Suspended Priest's Role Spurs AOL Membership Controversy

By Brooks Egerton
Dallas Morning News
November 19, 1998

A storm is raging in cyberspace over suspended Catholic priest Kenneth Roberts, an internationally known spiritual leader who has been accused of sexual abuse.

America Online has continued to list "Father Ken Roberts" as a Catholic discussion leader though Dallas Bishop Charles V. Grahmann ordered him to cease all ministry and not to use the title "Father."

The nation's largest online service also has purged hundreds of messages about recent Dallas Morning News stories on Mr. Roberts, AOL members around the country say.

AOL has refused since Friday to talk to The News about the situation.

The stories showed that the Catholic Diocese of Dallas has paid at least two out-of-court settlements to Mr. Roberts' alleged victims, that he defied a 1995 order to end his public ministry and that Bishop Grahmann suspended him last week from all priestly functions.

Some members have started an online petition that criticizes the purges and demands Mr. Roberts' immediate removal from AOL work.

AOL's Catholic Community Forum staff members, "to their great shame, have allowed Mr. Roberts' message board to continue operation," the petition states. "Moreover they have welcomed posts which present Mr. Roberts as a "saintly man' while summarily deleting any messages that request prayers for his alleged victims as well as those that seek further clarification of the issues involved."

The petition organizers describe themselves as "frequent visitors to the AOL Catholic Community Forum and faithful Roman Catholics." They say they have received no response to their demands, which have been sent to AOL executives, Bishop Grahmann and Catholic Community Forum associates such as Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony.

"We have all been stopped dead," said Catherine Attara, a New Jersey stock trader who has led some of the protests. "I don't know who's behind it. There's no one who will take responsibility."

Mr. Roberts, a Dallas diocesan priest who for the last 25 years operated an unsupervised multimedia ministry from suburban St. Louis, has declined interview requests. His spokeswoman has said that he would obey Bishop Grahmann and that he had never deliberately disobeyed the bishop.

She also has said that Mr. Roberts denies some abuse allegations and can't confirm or deny others because of alcohol-related blackouts.

AOL increased its child-protection efforts last fall after repeated reports that sexual predators were using the service to contact children. One particularly embarrassing case involved a former AOL attorney who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy he met online.

Among other things, the service began criminal background checks of volunteers who monitor kids' chat rooms. It also gave parents additional power to screen out sexual content, said Dave Phillips, a former AOL chat host from Buffalo, N.Y.

Mr. Phillips said the last action came only after he complained for two years that parents needed to be alerted to some of the content AOL was sponsoring. Service executives, he said, "never admitted there had been a problem."

[Photo caption: Kenneth Roberts . . . suspended Catholic priest has been accused of sexual abuse.]

Priest Accused of Sex Abuse Pulled from Online Service
AOL Says Suspended Cleric Asked to Be Removed

By Brooks Egerton
Dallas Morning News
November 20, 1998

America Online removed suspended priest Kenneth Roberts from its Catholic discussion group staff Thursday, six days after The Dallas Morning News reported that he was operating a cyberspace ministry in defiance of his bishop's orders.

AOL said that the newspaper's reporting had prompted it to review the status of the internationally acclaimed spiritual leader, who has been accused of sexual abuse in the Dallas, St. Louis and Peoria, Ill., dioceses. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Roberts has denied some of the allegations and said he's unsure of others because of alcohol-related blackouts.

"While we were in the midst of the review, Father Ken contacted us and requested that we remove his content from the service," AOL spokeswoman Tricia Primrose said. "We agree with his decision."

She said that AOL will investigate why information about Mr. Roberts' suspension was purged from the service's Catholic message boards. The purges have stopped, AOL members said Thursday.

AOL verifies that its volunteer clerics are in fact priests, Ms. Primrose said, but she could provide no details on how much background checking is done.

Mr. Roberts began his online work in the mid-1990s, after Dallas Bishop Charles V. Grahmann ordered him not to work with young people and to cease his public ministry. He developed an extensive Web page on the Catholic Online service; for America Online, he moderated a Catholic message board, operated question-and-answer sessions, visited chat rooms and founded a club for young people considering religious careers.

That club, called Vox Christi, remained in service late Thursday with long-standing material praising Mr. Roberts. The material also says that members run the club, with Mr. Roberts contributing to their online newsletter.

Dallas diocesan officials say they warned Mr. Roberts in July, August and October to end his cyber-ministry. Defiance of those orders led to suspension of all his priestly faculties last week, the diocese has said.

Ann Waters, Mr. Roberts' spokeswoman in suburban St. Louis, has said that he received only the October warning and then faced delays from his online hosts when he tried to comply quickly.

But Ms. Primrose said that Mr. Roberts first asked to be removed from his prominent volunteer post this week. "We did act immediately at his request," she said.

Mr. Roberts, a Dallas diocesan priest, has worked independently for the last quarter-century, writing books, hosting radio and TV shows, speaking to youth groups around the country and leading overseas pilgrimages.

He scaled back his public speaking after being ordered to end public ministry but continued all the other work.

Catholic Diocese of Dallas Grows 9% in 12 Months

By Berta Delgado
Dallas Morning News
December 3, 1998

After a year racked with allegations of abuse and the settlement of the largest clergy-abuse judgment ever, the Catholic Diocese of Dallas recently received good news: The local church has grown by 9 percent in the last 12 months.

According to an annual statistical report prepared by the diocese, the nine-county, 65-parish diocese has continued its steady growth over the last decade. Lynn Rossol, director of the pastoral planning and research office, said the number of registered Catholics reached 390,312 this year. That record-setting number represents an increase of 189,728 registered Catholics since 1988, she said.

Diocesan chancellor Mary Edlund said the statistic is "very good news, and it provides us with a great deal of hope for the future."

"I think it [growth] reflects a very basic, deep-rooted faith of Catholic people that even during difficult times and times of turmoil, Catholics rely heavily on faith to get through those times," she said.

In July, the diocese and attorney Windle Turley reached a $23.4 million settlement of sex-abuse claims against former priest Rudolph "Rudy" Kos. Nine young men alleged that they had been abused by Mr. Kos from 1981 to 1992 at churches in Dallas, Irving and Ennis. The settlement resulted from a civil jury award of $119.6 million to the plaintiffs last year.

Mr. Kos was convicted of child sexual abuse and is serving a life sentence in state prison.

In February, the diocese reached a $5 million settlement of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by two former priests who served at the same time as Mr. Kos. The diocese's share is $1.1 million.

With the increase in Catholic numbers, Ms. Rossol said the number is the largest it's ever been.

"When you really think about it, we're pushing half a million," she said. "There are places across the country that are closing parishes, and I'm going to venture to say that some of the parishes here, at the larger Masses, it's standing room only."

Of the Catholic population in the diocese, she said that more than half is Hispanic. And many Hispanics do not register, Ms. Rossol said.

"I think that's a very significant number," she said. "We have more Spanish-language churches than we've ever had. Certainly, there's Hispanics in virtually every parish, and now many of the parishes have a Mass in Spanish."

At some of the mostly Hispanic parishes, attendance has increased significantly, she said. At Cathedral Santuario Guadalupe downtown, the average weekly attendance has increased from 6,100 in 1996 to 7,327 in October 1998. At St. Edward's Catholic Church, also downtown, the number has jumped from 3,897 to 4,380 during that period, and St. Luke's Catholic Church in Irving has increased from 2,036 to 2,751.

Ms. Edlund said that a priest recently told her he plans to go to Cuernavaca, Mexico, for an intensive Spanish course because of the growing number of Hispanics in his parish.

"I think the Hispanic presence is probably one of the greatest gifts and blessings the church has experienced," she said.

Other significant numbers noted by diocese officials include:

* 555,172 registered Catholics have participated in liturgies and programs, up 10,000 from last year.

* 906 adults have been baptized, a 27 percent increase from last year.

* 595 adults have been confirmed.

Churches Join Battle over Coverage for Sex Claims

By Mark Wrolstad
Dallas Morning News
December 14, 1998

The last sexual misconduct and negligence lawsuits against defrocked Methodist leader Barry Bailey and his former denomination were settled months ago, and his victims have been paid.

But the legal contest continues over who ultimately will foot most of the bill in the multimillion-dollar case: insurance companies or the Methodist church.

Many of the nation's major faiths, fearing a legal precedent in Texas in the expanding area of clergy misconduct, will join the fight Monday to try to force insurers to defend them against sex-related negligence claims.

Governing bodies for the Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Seventh-day Adventists, Christian Scientists, Mormons and others are siding with the Methodists, hoping to persuade a state appeals court in Dallas that coverage extends to cases of sexual abuse or harassment by church officials.

The churches contend that their service to communities is threatened by insurers' resistance to providing them with lawyers or paying settlements in potentially expensive misconduct cases.

"The other religious groups have a common concern that this is a serious problem," said Jim Geoly, an attorney in Chicago for nine groups. "They're all at risk that when something happens, the companies will turn around and say there is no coverage . . . so that the churches have to look very seriously at whether they're going to be out in the world or risk bankrupting the church."

The denominations intend to step into the insurance-coverage debate Monday, Mr. Geoly said, by filing a friend-of-the-court document that isn't friendly to the companies.

"It's like having the cavalry show up," said Peter Martin, an attorney for several Methodist divisions and officials. "I like the fact that darn near every other denomination in the country has seen fit to come join the fray. They're saying, "Please, Texas, don't make it that the churches have no coverage.' "

Insurance coverage for intentional sexual misconduct has never been decided by the Texas Supreme Court; rulings across the country have gone both ways, lawyers said.

Covered or not?

"There's just two different ways of looking at this," said Tom Alleman, a Dallas attorney for Atlantic Mutual Insurance Co. "Either sexual abuse and sexual harassment is not an accident, which is clear under Texas law, so it's not covered; or there is coverage.

"The risk of intentional misconduct is not a risk . . . [an insurer] has agreed to assume in any guise. A minister exposing himself to his parishioners, talking dirty and having forced sexual relations with a minor simply is not covered."

Atlantic Mutual and two affiliated companies have asked the 5th District Court of Appeals to reverse a state District Court ruling that the Methodists' alleged negligence in supervising Dr. Bailey is covered by their policies.

Judge John Marshall ruled a year ago this month that the insurers had a "duty to defend" First United Methodist Church in Fort Worth, Methodist divisions and officials, even though the damage was caused - in insurance-speak - by Dr. Bailey's "intentional acts."

But insurers appealed the ruling, shunning all settlement talks.

Settling claims

Without the insurers' participation, the 10 women settled their claims confidentially this year against church entities and First Methodist, which Dr. Bailey had built into the denomination's third-largest while gaining a national reputation for his sermons.

Earlier, the women had settled their claims against Dr. Bailey individually for what they claimed was a pattern of indecent behavior, including vulgar talk, gropes and coercing three of them into sexual relationships.

Two insurance companies whose homeowners' policies covered the ex-minister agreed to pay damages in a $2.5 million reduced settlement, after a civil jury found him liable and awarded most of the women $3.7 million.

Dr. Bailey, 72, has never acknowledged doing anything improper, and he has paid nothing.

In the sex-abuse case of former Catholic priest Rudy Kos, insurers for the Dallas diocese initially said their policies didn't cover the jury's finding of intentional misconduct. They eventually agreed to pay more than $16 million in a $23.4 million settlement that reduced the jury's record $119.6 million award.

The Methodist church divisions, which paid the women directly, now are trying to recover from their insurers an unspecified amount, including attorneys' fees.

The Methodists' insurers contend they'll win in state court, just as another group of insurers won in federal court earlier this year and avoided paying.

Another point in the insurers' favor, they say, is the women's contentions that church officials knew about Dr. Bailey's behavior and kept him on the job.

"You're not allowed to buy insurance against a loss that's already begun," Mr. Alleman said. "It's like fixing a card game."

But Mr. Martin, the church attorney, said, "There's not a shred of evidence that we knew about Mr. Bailey's problems when we purchased the policy."

Policy exclusions

Although the church's general liability policies had intentional-acts exclusions, Mr. Martin said an umbrella policy specifically covered assault and other intentional acts.

"What's it good for if it's not good for this kind of situation?" he said. "It would render this policy absolutely meaningless, and we wouldn't have bought it."

Mr. Alleman said solving the problem of clergy misconduct has nothing to do with a lack of insurance coverage supposedly imperiling the public work of churches.

"Supervise your people," he said. "A church is not held liable for an employee's acts if it has used reasonable care to supervise him.

"It's mind-boggling to assert that the minister can't be subject to peer review and periodic checks."

But Mr. Geoly, representing the other faiths, said churches will still require a defense in the face of negligence allegations.

"You could have the best system of supervision in the world and human beings will make mistakes," he said. "The church may be totally innocent, but there's still a very real cost of litigation.

"Lawyers have to be hired, cases have to be defended. You still need insurance to protect you."


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