Topeka priest returns to duty after investigations don’t substantiate sex abuse claims against him

Topeka Capital-Journal [Topeka KS]

April 29, 2022

By Tim Hrenchir

The Rev. John Pilcher will return to his duties as pastor of Topeka’s Mater Dei Catholic Parish after investigations didn’t substantiate sexual abuse claims against him, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announced Friday.

Pilcher will end a seven-month leave of absence he took to facilitate separate probes conducted by law enforcement and the archdiocese into accusations that he sexually abused a child, said Anita McSorley, media liaison for the archdiocese.

Pilcher, who vigorously denies the allegations, has fully cooperated with both investigations, McSorley said.

Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay decided not to file charges against Pilcher after reviewing the results of a probe conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Kagay told The Capital-Journal on Monday.

A lay investigator conducted a separate investigation for the archdiocese and submitted her findings to its Independent Review Board, McSorley said.

That board then recommended Pilcher’s return to the ministry to Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, who concluded he is suitable to return, she said.

“Archbishop Naumann makes this decision committed to the bedrock principle that a person should be afforded the presumption of innocence until proven guilty,” McSorley said. “Archbishop Naumann has full confidence in Father Pilcher.”

Pilcher is eager to resume public ministry, she said.

Mater Dei Parish includes Holy Name Catholic Church, 911 S.W. Clay, and Assumption Catholic Church, 204 S.W. 8th Ave.

Tim Hrenchir can be reached at or 785-213-5934.