Local group says Catholic Church should publicly name priests accused of being predators

WDAF-TV - Fox 4 [Kansas City MO]

April 7, 2021

By Regan Porter

[Includes a video of David Clohessy’s statement.]

A local support group applauds the Missouri Supreme Court over a new law, but it wants more from the Catholic Church. 

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, wants the bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph to add four names to the list of accused clergy. 

Clohessy said the church should publicly name priests accused of being predators. The Diocese disputes some of those claims against local priests.

“Our main mission is to protect kids and kids are protected when predators are jailed,” volunteer and abuse survivor David Clohessy said. “But often that can’t happened. So the next best option is kids are safer when predators are exposed.”

Although the four men have passed away, they are “credibly accused” abusers, Clohessy said, and are not on the list.

Clohessy said in the case involving Fr. Alexander Sinclair, the church reached a settlement three weeks ago.

Seven years ago, church officials reached a $277,000 settlement with the victim in Fr. Martin Froeschl’s case.

“They’ve stayed silent about Fr. Froeshel ever since,”  Clohessy said.

A spokesperson with the diocese said in a statement, Fr. Sinclair “does not have any substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor”.

In 2019, the diocese said the attorney general reviewed the files in Froeshl’s case and “determined no substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.”

Clohessy also said, Fr. Warren Discon and Fr. Victor Heinen’s were both put o n”accused lists” within the last year. But not on the accused clergy list for the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph.

David Clohessy
David Clohessy

“These are from a different Catholic religious order, but all four men worked in this diocese,” Clohessy said. “Some of them for decades.”

The Diocese said it’s working to confirm Discon’s information. If he worked in the diocese, Discon will be added to the list. 

Heinen’s death preceded the establishment of the Diocese. So, his history is unknown.

Beyond names, SNAP wants pictures of the accused priests, their work histories and where they are now, made public. 

Clohessy said it would be validation for victims – and could prompt other people to come forward. 

“Victims do that when they feel like it will have an impact, might make a difference, might protect somebody else,” Clohessy said, “and victims do that when they are encouraged and invited to. Do so by people they love or by people of authority.”

Any concerned person or victims is invited to call the child and youth protection office. 

The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph said, it “takes very seriously all allegations of sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult by members of clergy. Concerned citizens are encouraged to contact the diocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection through the Independent Ombudsman, Joe Crayon 816.812.2500 or crayon@ombudsmankcsj.org.”

Tuesday, The Missouri Supreme Court made a decision in a case out of St. Louis involving a Catholic school and a religious brother who has since been convicted of abuse, according to Clohessy.

He said the ruling makes it easier to expose predators, hi lighting code language used in reports. 

“They don’t write down, ‘Fr. Bob’ molested a young kids,” Clohessy said. “They write down, ‘Fr. Bob’ is too familiar with young girls. They write down ‘Fr. Bob’ doesn’t obey the curfew in the rectory. ‘Fr. Bob’ doesn’t has boundary issues.”