DA drops sex abuse case of KCK priest. Trial ‘not in the best interests’ of victim

Kansas City Star [Kansas City MO]

September 9, 2021

By July L. Thomas

Wyandotte County prosecutors have dismissed a criminal case against a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas charged with sexually abusing a minor.

The Rev. Scott Kallal faced two felony counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child stemming from incidents that allegedly occurred in 2015.

Kallal’s case went to trial in September 2019 and ended in a hung jury. A new trial — delayed due to COVID-19 — was set to take place next year, but the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office dismissed the case last week. The action was announced Wednesday by the KCK archdiocese.

The District Attorney’s Office said the decision was made following discussions with the alleged victim’s family.

“After lengthy consultation with the family, the District Attorney’s Office has decided it is not in the best interests of the victim to try the case a second time,” it said Wednesday night in an email to The Star.

The archdiocese said in a statement that Kallal has been on a leave of absence since an allegation was first received in 2017. At that time, he was associate pastor at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Overland Park.

“He continues to be on leave, restricted from publicly exercising priestly ministry,” the archdiocese said. “With the criminal legal process concluded, the Archdiocese will resume its own process of evaluation, including a thorough review by the Independent Review Board of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. The board will then present Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann with a recommendation regarding Father Kallal’s suitability for priestly ministry.”

When it first announced the allegation, the archdiocese said that “Father Kallal denies any moral misconduct or malicious intent and has agreed to undergo evaluation and counseling.”

At Kallal’s preliminary hearing in 2017, a 13-year-old girl testified that in 2015 Kallal twice tickled her breasts against her wishes. The first alleged incident, she said, 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 occurred a few months later at the parish hall gymnasium at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Kansas City, Kansas, the girl said.

The Rev. Scott Kallal SUBMITTED PHOTO
The Rev. Scott Kallal SUBMITTED PHOTO

In testimony at Kallal’s trial in 2019, the girl’s adoptive mother said that she witnessed Kallal carrying her daughter in the gym in an inappropriate way. The woman testified that she had to order Kallal about three times to put her daughter down before he complied.

The woman, who described herself as a “cradle Catholic” raised to hold priests in high regard, said she was mortified and shell-shocked at what happened. She said she waited to report the incident because she didn’t think the church would do anything about it.

Judy L. Thomas joined The Star in 1995 and is a member of the investigative team, focusing on watchdog journalism. Over three decades, the Kansas native has covered domestic terrorism, extremist groups and clergy sex abuse. Her stories on Kansas secrecy and religion have been nationally recognized.