Former Priest Facing Charges
Newton police Detective T. Walton, who headed the investigation, said Larson was charged with four counts of indecent liberties with a child and one count of sexual battery. The charges stem from allegations made by men who say they were abused by Larson while he was the priest at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Newton in the 1980s.
Larson was not available for comment. His lawyer, Dan Monnat of Wichita, said Larson will plead not guilty at his arraignment today before Judge Theodore Ice.
Larson had been a priest in the Wichita diocese for 30 years when he was removed by church officials following several allegations of abuse in 1988. He was later stripped of his title and duties as a priest. Now 70, he lives in Willoughby, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb.
The Harvey County charges result from an investigation launched after several men went public in August with allegations that Larson molested them.
Four men told The Eagle that Larson sexually abused them or touched them inappropriately when the men were boys in Larson's pastoral care. In the weeks following the published report, several more men came forward, claiming to be victims of abuse by Larson.
Abuse reports linked to Larson span 20 years and four locations, including three parishes. Sedgwick County has launched a criminal investigation of its own, but no charges have resulted.
Bishop Eugene Gerber was not available for comment Tuesday evening. Following the allegations of abuse, he issued a public apology to all victims of abuse by clergy and to victims' families.
Stan Finger can be reached at 268-6437 or email@example.com.
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