KANSAS CITY (KS)
WDAF-TV - Fox 4 [Kansas City MO]
February 1, 2024
By Makenzie Koch
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Advocates for survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of priests are publicly asking the Kansas City archdiocese to remove two men from their jobs in Johnson County.
One is now a priest at a Lenexa parish with a parochial school, and the other is the president at a Roeland Park Catholic high school.
Both have faced accusations of child molestation in the past. One of them faced a lawsuit, but neither of them ever faced criminal charges.
The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas said it did investigations into both men, as did law enforcement, and could not substantiate the accusations.
The advocates group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said that doesn’t justify putting them back in jobs near children.
“This notion of innocent until proven guilty, that the standard we use to lock up people and deprive them of their freedom, and that’s the standard that should be used,” former SNAP director David Clohessy said.
“The standard of who gets to keep what job, that’s a much much lower standard.”
FOX4 reached out to the Archdiocese, and it issued the following response:
The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas takes all allegations of misconduct by church personnel very seriously and works to respond to survivors’ needs with urgency, respect, and compassion. The allegation made against Father John Pilcher in 2021 while he served at Mater Dei Catholic Church in Topeka, was investigated by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
Subsequently, the Archdiocese conducted its own investigation into the allegation, and the findings were then reviewed by the Archdiocesan Independent Review Board. The Archdiocesan Independent Review Board is made up of seasoned qualified professionals including mental health, education, law enforcement, business, and theology; one of whom is a survivor of clergy abuse, who was appointed for their expertise, education, and passion for this topic. The recommendation was that he return to full ministry.
Throughout the investigation and up to the present day, the Archdiocese has been transparent about the allegation and the process and protocol that followed and has continued to issue public updates.
Bishop Miege employed an in-depth vetting process when hiring Mr. Phil Baniewicz; it included several interviews, a criminal background check, and substantive interviews of work and personal references. Members of the Board of Trustees at Miege conducted the interviews and reviewed his employment history, including his years of service at Maur Hill-Mount Academy.
Father James W. Jackson, a priest of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, has never served in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. He resided in Overland Park, Kansas while he was awaiting trial but it should be noted that he was under court supervision and had no grant of faculties to serve in the Archdiocese at any point while he was here. In transparency, the Archdiocese made an announcement about this in The Leaven, our diocesan newspaper. This goes out to every household in our Archdiocese; there are about 200,000 parishioners in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. Please see the attached article.
The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas has been and will continue to respond to all concerns and questions by parents and parishioners at Holy Trinity. Anyone who would like to discuss their concerns should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We encourage anyone with knowledge about any misconduct by any church volunteer, employee, religious or clergy member to contact civil authorities first, and then make a report to our confidential report line at 913-647-3051 or online at www.archkck.org/reportabuse.ARCHDIOCESE OF KANSAS CITY IN KANSAS