DIOCESE OF DODGE CITY KS
A study of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy in the United States since 1950 will be released at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Feb. 27.
This study was commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and was conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City to determine "the nature and scope of the problem of sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the Catholic Church in the United States."
The study will include aggregate statistics from all 195 dioceses and eparchies in the United States on the number of offenders, number of victims, and dollar amounts paid by dioceses and religious orders for victim counseling, perpetrator counseling, settlements or awards of costs covered by insurance. In addition, the study describes, in a composite way, many aspects of the personalities of abusers and of the abuse that was perpetrated.
Included with the statistics will be those of the Diocese of Dodge City that were released by the Most Reverend Ronald M. Gilmore in the June 22, 2003, issue of the Southwest Kansas Register. In that issue Bishop Gilmore wrote: "While one case is too many, we have not had a large problem here in our diocese. In the past 50 years, a total of six allegations have been made against priests formerly serving in our diocese, and payments of approximately $11,000 have been made to those claiming abuse."
In those same 50 years, more than 250 priests have served in the diocese. No allegations of abuse have been made against any priest now serving in the diocese. The allegations of the six priests that were reported for the John Jay Study occurred between 10 and 40 years ago. Those priests are now either deceased or are no longer in active ministry and residing outside the diocese. The payments made to those claiming abuse were made for therapy, counseling or education.
The Diocese of Dodge City adopted its original sexual abuse policy in 1993. The diocese established the "To Protect God’s Children" program in 2003. Every adult connected with a parish, school or agency in the diocese is required to attend a forum designed to prevent the abuse of children. The "To Protect God’s Children" program identifies the warning signs of abuse and teaches strategies for maintaining safe environments for children.
In addition to the community forums, the diocese required all employees and volunteers who work with children to complete the training. It is the intent that every minister, educator, youth worker, and employee attend a forum. To strengthen the program, those who have or will attend a forum participate in an on-line continuing education program. Background checks have been conducted on all clergy working in the diocese, and either have been or are being conducted on the employees and volunteers. Those persons who have completed this training now number more than 830.
The John Jay Study is unprecedented. There is no comparable study of any other profession. As such, it represents a risk of another shadow being cast over the whole priesthood in the public mind. Whatever the study reports about the number of victims and the number of abusers -- out of the tens of thousands of priests of the last 50 years -- all the bishops, priests and deacons join the Catholic people in the unswerving conviction that one abuser and one victim are already one too many.
Bishop Gilmore and his fellow bishops have chosen, through the steps taken in the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" -- including this difficult and challenging study -- to do all in their power to cleanse the Church in this country of this terrible problem, to restore trust, and to open a new era in the protection of children and young people. Sadly, we cannot change history, but we can make sure that we do not repeat it.
If you or someone you know may have been a victim of sexual abuse by clergy or any employee of the Diocese of Dodge City, you are asked to contact Dave Snapp, Fitness Review Administrator: (620) 225-5051 work, (620) 225-2412 home, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You always have the right to directly contact SRS. Their hotline number is 1-800-922-5330.
Dodge, Salina dioceses release sex-abuse stats
The statistics were provided in advance of Friday's scheduled release of a study by John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York. The study chronicles the nature and scope of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church of the United States.
Six sexual abuse allegations have been made in the past 52 years against priests in the Diocese of Dodge City. Five were made in the Diocese of Salina, with four of those being documented and two landing in the legal system.
Payments totaling approximately $11,000 were made to three victims in the Dodge City diocese, which covers most of southwest Kansas, said the Rev. Bob Schremmer, vicar general of the diocese.
That money came from the estates of two deceased priests, Schremmer said. The money had been earmarked for special needs and charities. It was used, Schremmer said, for treatment and counseling, not for a financial settlement.
An undetermined amount of insurance money from Catholic Mutual Insurance was used for treatment and counseling associated with the Salina incidents, the Rev. Barry Brinkman said.
Officials at the Wichita diocese declined to release their figures until Friday, after the diocese newspaper, "The Catholic Advance," is delivered to parishioners.
"Obviously, this is a story no one wants to see," Schremmer said. "One case is clearly one case too many. The point of the problem that we're pointing up is that it has been a historical problem."
Brinkman supported that perspective.
"Although it may be difficult to hear and read about the past mistakes and errors the Catholic Church has committed," he said, "hopefully this process will assist everyone in society to grow in its awareness of what child sexual abuse is, how it can be prevented and the outreach that needs to extend to victims."
The incidents in the Dodge City diocese date from around 1950 to 1980, Schremmer said. There have been no sexual abuse allegations in the diocese in the past 20 years, he said.
The Salina incidents date from 1950 through the 1990s, with the most recent occurring in November 1987 and in 1993-94 at Thomas More Prep-Marian, Brinkman said.
Only one of the abuse cases made it to law enforcement.
The Rev. Ron Gilardi, a religious order priest who taught at TMP, pleaded guilty in 2001 to three counts of sexual abuse in a plea agreement with the Ellis County attorney.
He was sentenced to a total of eight years in prison on the charges. After he completes treatment, or at the end of eight years, he will remain on community corrections for another five years.
The 1987 incident involved the Rev. Robert Reif, accused of abuse between 1975 and 1986 in several Kansas cities.
The case eventually was settled out of court in the mid-1990s for an unspecified amount of money, Brinkman said, after setting legal precedent.
The Reif case was a test for a 1992 Kansas law giving childhood sexual abuse victims up to three years after recalling the abuse to file a lawsuit.
The priests accused in the 1970s and 1980s in the Dodge City diocese have either left the priesthood or have been suspended from the ministry, Schremmer said.
Both dioceses have sexual abuse policies in place dating back to at least 1993. The Diocese of Salina has had a policy in place since July 1, 1989, to address sexual abuse allegations against clergy and other church personnel.
It was updated in 2003 to comply with the U.S. bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
It requires a criminal background check for all adults who minister to children in parishes and in Catholic schools, although that requirement began only last fall.
The Dodge City diocese established the "To Protect God's Children" program in 2003. Every adult connected with a parish, school or agency in the diocese must attend a forum on identifying and addressing the warning signs of sexual abuse.
Reporter Bill Wilson can be reached at email@example.com or at (620) 694-5700, ext. 314.
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