Abusive priest denied
The parole board rules that Robert Larson must serve the remainder of his term for abusing three altar boys and a jailed man.

By Stan Finger
Wichita Eagle
August 7, 2004

The Kansas Parole Board on Friday denied parole for admitted child abuser Robert Larson and ordered the defrocked priest to serve the remainder of his prison sentence.

Larson pleaded guilty in 2001 to molesting three altar boys and a jailed 19-year-old man while he was pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Newton in the 1980s. He was sentenced to three to 10 years at Lansing Correctional Facility and was denied parole for the first time two years ago.

Friday's ruling means Larson will not be eligible for release until March 29, 2006, the latest he can be in prison under sentencing laws in place at the time of his crimes.

The parole board had listened to some of Larson's victims at a public comment session last week and met with Larson earlier this week.

Paul Schwartz, one of the men Larson admitted molesting, said he was not surprised that the board denied parole.

"I'm satisfied," Schwartz said. "We have now done everything we can do and have been successful every step of the way."

Several men told The Eagle in August 2000 that Larson had molested them during a pattern of behavior that spanned several decades and several parishes. Schwartz and other men saw the story and contacted authorities, prompting a criminal investigation.

The statute of limitations prevented Sedgwick County authorities from pressing charges against Larson, but Harvey County filed criminal charges.

The parole board's ruling also gratified Janet Patterson, director of the Kansas chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Patterson's oldest son, Eric, committed suicide in 1999, only months after confiding to his family that Larson had molested him when he was a 12-year-old altar boy in Conway Springs.

Larson "needs to serve as much time as possible, to keep society safe and to also send a message that this is not tolerated," Patterson said.

Reach Stan Finger at 268-6437 or


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