KANSAS CITY (MO)
KSHB41 [Kansas City, MO]
January 6, 2023
By David Medina
Charges not filed due to statute of limitations, priest deaths
A four-year long investigation conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation identified dozens of Kansas Catholic clergy suspected of committing sex crimes against children.
The Kansas Attorney General’s Office released a lengthy report of the KBI’s findings on Friday evening.
Investigators conducted their review for the whole Catholic church in Kansas, which is divided across Dodge City, Kansas City, Salina and Wichita.
According to the report, the KBI pinned 188 members who may have committed crimes including aggravated criminal sodomy, rape, aggravated indecent liberties with a child and aggravated sexual battery.
As a result of its investigation, the KBI presented charging information against 30 clergy.
Because of statute of limitations has run out on many cases, and the deaths of the clergy member in others, no prosecutors have yet to file any charges.
As part of the investigation, which was launched in 2019 at request of the Kansas AG’s office, investigators reviewed over 40,000 pages of records; followed up on hundreds of tips; interviewed hundreds of victims and initiated hundreds of criminal cases.
The investigation found that victims were hesitant to come forward and provide information because they had previously signed non-disclosure agreements.
Also, the KBI said there’s evidence that proves shortcomings by church officials in investigating abuse.
The KBI said church officials “minimized the seriousness or severity of actions and abuse by church clergy.”
The report cited language that downplayed the allegations, citing examples where the church would use a phrase as “inappropriate contact” instead of rape. Another example cited in the report was that instead of characterizing a priest as a criminal or rapist, they would be described as having “boundary issues.”
When a diocese did conduct investigations, they were inadequate and inconsistent.
Also notable, church officials often took action to avoid scandal and didn’t hold offenders accountable, the KBI found in its investigation.
This is includes “transferring offending priests to new parishes, continuing to financially support offending priests, failing to remove offending priests from their status as priests, and failing to monitor priests of concern.”
“It should not go without saying that the abuses revealed during the investigation had a profound effect on the victims, the families of victims and our task force members,” the KBI said in a statement. “It is our deepest and most sincere hope these victims find a way to continue to survive and heal.”
Those interested in reading the full report can do so by clicking on this link.
KSHB 41 News has contacted the Diocese of Kansas City in Kansas, which was one of the dioceses included in the KBI report, for comment. This story will be updated if one is provided.