Criminal trial of KCK priest accused of sexually abusing a minor is delayed

Kansas City Star

APRIL 02, 2019

By Judy L. Thomas

Sexual abuse victims and their advocates making plans to attend a rare criminal trial this month of a priest charged with molesting a child will now have to wait until at least this summer.

The trial of the Rev. Scott Kallal, which was set to begin April 15 in Wyandotte County District Court, has been continued. At a hearing last week, the court — over the prosecution’s objection — granted Kallal’s request for more time. A status conference on the case is set for June 7, and a new trial date has not yet been scheduled.

The action frustrated victims’ advocates.

“Accused wrongdoers often exploit delays, hoping that victims, witnesses and whistleblowers will give up or get intimidated,” said David Clohessy, former executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “We hope this move will help prod others with knowledge of or suspicions about him to step forward…”

Kallal, a priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, was charged in Wyandotte County District Court in 2017 with two felony counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. Kallal has pleaded not guilty.

At Kallal’s preliminary hearing in 2017, a 13-year-old girl testified that when she was 10, Kallal twice tickled her breasts against her wishes. The first alleged incident was at a friend’s graduation party in Bonner Springs in spring 2015. The girl said she and other girls were outside playing soccer when Kallal tickled her inappropriately.

The second alleged incident took place a few months later at the parish hall gymnasium at St. Patrick’s Church in Kansas City, Kansas.

The archdiocese suspended Kallal in 2017 from public priestly ministry as associate pastor at Holy Spirit Church in Overland Park. It later issued a statement saying Kallal “denies any moral misconduct or malicious intent and has agreed to undergo evaluation and counseling.”

In January, the archdiocese named Kallal on a list of 22 priests in its files who it said have had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against them in the past 75 years. The document said that Kallal was “on administrative leave.”

Kallal’s court hearing on Friday came the same day that another Catholic diocese in Kansas released its own list of abusive priests.

The Diocese of Salina published on its website the names of 14 diocesan priests who it said have had substantiated allegations of abuse of a minor. The list was released after newly appointed Bishop Gerald Vincke in September commissioned an independent review of the diocese’s priest files. The review was conducted by Courtney Boehm, at the time the Marion County attorney and now a district court judge in the 8th Judicial District.

“The entirety of this comprehensive report was immediately turned over to the Attorney General’s office, who then forwarded it to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI),” Vincke said in a statement Friday.

None of the 14 priests are in active ministry today, the Salina diocese said. Twelve are deceased, and the remaining two have been removed from the priesthood.

The Salina diocese also published the names of 13 priests of the Order of Franciscan Minors Capuchin Province of St. Conrad who have served in that diocese at some point in their ministry and have had credible allegations of abuse of a minor lodged against them. The province, which is headquartered in Denver, released those names last week after conducting its own independent investigation.

The Capuchins are a religious order that has had a strong presence in the Salina diocese, particularly in the Hays and Victoria areas in western Kansas. The St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria made national headlines last fall when former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, who stepped down in July over allegations that he sexually abused seminarians and minors for decades, was sent there to live out a “life of prayer and penance.” McCarrick was defrocked by the Vatican in February.

The friary is located next to the Basilica of St. Fidelis in Victoria, which is more commonly known as “The Cathedral of the Plains.” The church, which attracts thousands of visitors each year, is on the National Register of Historic Places and in 2008 was named one of the “8 Wonders of Kansas.”

Vincke apologized to victims and parishioners and described several cases in which the diocese mishandled allegations of priest sex abuse.

“It is difficult to share these failings with you,” he said. “But, I think it is necessary. The Church needs to be open, honest and transparent. The Church has made mistakes. The Diocese of Salina has made mistakes. I am very sorry for the mistakes that we have made. It is my sincere desire that we can learn from our errors and never let them happen again.”

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