State Journal-Register [Springfield IL]
April 21, 2021
By Steven Spearie
[Includes Twitter video clip of David Clohessy speaking about the experience for a survivor of coming forward.]
Holding signs like “Split hairs or protect kids” outside of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, members and supporters of a group of clergy sexual abuse survivors urged Springfield Catholic Bishop Thomas John Paprocki Wednesday to include five more names on the diocese’s list of “credibly accused” priests.
All five of the accused served at parishes or studied in the Springfield diocese, which includes 28 counties in central Illinois.
Four of the priests who have had accusations made against them are deceased, confirmed David Clohessy, a spokesman and former executive director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
The Springfield diocese “credibly accused” list includes “cases of sexual abuse of a minor by clergy in this diocese as disclosed in our voluntary review with the Illinois Attorney General’s office,” according to its website.
Springfield diocese spokesman Andrew Hansen said no names have been added to the diocese’s list since 2019 because there have been “no new substantiated allegations against any of our priests.”
“The presence of SNAP representatives outside Cathedral today is a reminder of the pain and suffering inflicted on victims of sexual abuse,” Hansen said.
Among the five priests, the Rev. David Ryan last worked at Maryville Academy in Des Plaines, where he was accused of sexually abusing minors. Ryan was asked to step away from active ministry by Chicago Archbishop Cardinal Blase Cupich in 2020.
Ryan, who was ordained at the Springfield cathedral in 1979, served at a parish in Godfrey and was the director of the Catholic Children’s Home in Alton.
According to a biography, he had been working outside of the Springfield diocese since 1984.
Clohessy said it was “likely” Ryan lives in Springfield, where he has family.
Clohessy said the other four priests — the Revs. Kenneth John Gansmann, John “Jack” Campbell and Joseph C. Gill and Brother Jerome Kucan (also spelled Kocan) — were on “credibly accused” lists from other dioceses and should be included on Springfield’s list.
Gansmann, who was accused of abusing at least one minor, worked at a Franciscan seminary in Teutopolis (which closed in 1978) and was on “credibly accused” lists for the archdioceses of Nashville and St. Paul.
Campbell and Gill were on the Jesuits’ Midwest Province “credibly accused” list. Both worked in Decatur.
Kucan was on “credibly accused” lists in Erie and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Kucan studied at the Teutopolis seminary.
“Other church officials in other places have said these men are credibly accused offenders and we’re not going to let them function in our diocese and we’re going to use our websites to warn people about them,” Clohessy said. “So our question to Bishop Paprocki is, if your brother bishops have said (that), why won’t you do the same?”
Paprocki, like other bishops, is “an expert at hair-splitting and for every one of these names, he can come up with an excuse why not to put them on the list,” Clohessy said. If Paprocki “is genuinely interested in helping victims heal and protecting kids, he will put the names out there.”
Clohessy said the group has in the past lobbied to have the names of 11 other priests added to Springfield’s list.
Clohessy said he has not personally contacted or confronted Paprocki about either set of names.
Lena Woltering of Belleville, who was protesting Wednesday, said Catholics in the pews “don’t have an idea of what’s going or the damage that’s being done (to the church). It continues. We have to keep it in the headlines.
“Most of the regular parishioners want to stay in denial (about clergy sexual abuse). It’s too difficult to admit to the truth and they hope that we’re wrong.”
Hansen, the diocese spokesman, said “since the late 1990s, the diocese has employed a zero-tolerance approach to abuse, marked by involvement of civil authorities, the leadership of a predominantly lay review board, comprehensive awareness training and improvements in seminary formation.
“Any single case of abuse is one too many. We encourage anyone with information about a case of abuse to contact the diocese’s Child Abuse Reporting and Investigation number at (217) 321-1155.”
Allegations of clerical sexual abuse of minors are investigated and examined by a review board composed predominantly of lay people not employed by the diocese, Hansen said.
Contact Steven Spearie: 217-622-1788, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/@StevenSpearie.