Catholic clergy abuse victims ask Kansas attorney general to release full report of 4-year inquiry

Kansas Reflector [Topeka, KS]

January 20, 2023

By Tim Carpenter

Representatives of an organization dedicated to exposing sexual abuse by religious leaders Friday pressed for the Kansas attorney general to voluntarily release a 350-page report of the four-year KBI inquiry into allegations of misconduct among Catholic clergy in the state.

David Clohessy, of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said Attorney General Kris Kobach could do what his predecessor, Derek Schmidt, declined to do. On Schmidt’s last full day in office, he released a 21-page summary of the investigation by the KBI. He didn’t comment on a report that identified clergy wrongdoing and referred cases to local prosecutors but didn’t result in filing of charges due to expiration of the statute of limitations.

The summary didn’t identify wrongdoers or victims, however the KBI disclosed that a review of thousands of documents and interviews with 140 victims led agents to 188 clergy in Kansas suspected of rape, taking indecent liberties with a child and other crimes. Thirty cases were forwarded to prosecutors, but the statute of limitations prohibited movement in those instances.

“We in SNAP are very disappointed, to say the least, in the recent summary provided by the former Kansas attorney general,” Cloehessy said. “We believe, quite frankly, that there are dozens of potentially dangerous child molesting clergy who the current attorney general knows about.”

He said SNAP would submit a Kansas Open Records Act request to Kobach in hopes of acquiring the lengthy document outlining results of the investigation of Catholic clergy.

John Milburn, spokesperson for the attorney general, said Kobach’s staff was “reviewing the work that was done” under Schmidt and now-retired KBI director Kirk Thompson.

“It’s important that we get that information because we don’t know if there are predators volunteering in our libraries or our schools or just got a different job in a different area,” state Sen. Cindy Holscher, an Olathe Democrat, said at the news conference.

Nebraska’s attorney general released a 182-page report that named 57 credibly accused Catholic clerics although none were prosecuted. In 2019, the Missouri attorney general made public a 329-page report that named 173 Catholic clergy accused of abuse. That same year the attorney general in Colorado published a 241-page report that named 41 clerics of the Catholic church accused of abuse.

Some reports in other states deleted names of the accused — none named accusers — and featured detailed summaries of what victims alleged as well as recommendations for legislative action.

Individuals speaking at the news conference near the Johnson County Courthouse, including those allegedly abused by people unrelated to the Catholic church, said they supported an effort in the Kansas Legislature to remove the statute of limitations related to criminal or civil actions associated with clergy abuse.

Rep. Jeff Underhill, a Junction City Republican, said a bill designed to roll the statute of limitations back to 1994 on sexual abuse claims would likely be introduced next week in Topeka. He said it wouldn’t do everything some advocates want, but “it’s definitely a good start.”

Retired gymnast Terin Humphrey, a two-time Olympic silver medalist and 11-time All American, said she was allegedly abused at age 15. She said the statute of limitations in her case expired before she complained to an adult about what happened to her. It makes sense to amend Kansas law, she said.

“Our children deserve and are entitled to a healthy childhood,” she said. “I owe it to my children to protect them.”