Breakaway Catholic group orders staff, priests not to talk to KBI without attorney

Kansas City Star

August 4, 2020

By Judy L. Thomas

A breakaway Catholic society under investigation by the state’s top law enforcement agency for allegations of priest sexual abuse and coverup is telling employees not to talk to authorities without involving the group’s attorney.

An official with the Society of St. Pius X sent an email to priests and staff members warning them that investigators from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation may be in St. Marys, Kansas, to conduct interviews.

“You are not required to speak to them just because they ask you to or make veiled threats against you or tell you that, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear,” said the email, signed by the Rev. Scott Gardner, the U.S. District Bursar at the society’s headquarters in Platte City.

“Further, you are always entitled to have legal representation at any interview, and all Priests, staff, and employees must insist on this if contacted. You will be provided with legal representation by SSPX.”

Critics, including some former SSPX adherents who have alleged that the society has covered up sexual abuse by its priests and employees, say the email appears to be an attempt to silence witnesses.

“It looks like they’re trying to hide things, trying to keep people from speaking and definitely stonewalling,” said Kyle White, who has alleged that in 2012 he and his then-fiance reported sexual abuse by her father to three SSPX priests and none took any action. In February, the father was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child.

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