More Accusations against Priests

By Dan Curry
The Examiner [Missouri]
January 22, 2004

Three Kansas City-area Catholic priests, one a former bishop, have been accused of sexually abusing nine men as minors over the span of 30 years.

Former Bishop Joseph Hart, Monsignor Thomas O'Brien and Thomas Reardon were each named in a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Reardon was briefly stationed in Buckner at the Santa Fe Church in 1978. O'Brien served at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Independence from 1982 to 1983, when the diocese sent him to New Mexico for psychological evaluation after reports of sexual abuse first surfaced.

The lawsuit is the largest yet in a series of suits against Kansas City area priests that began last year.

In this case, none of the plaintiffs were from Eastern Jackson County, and none of the alleged abuse occurred there, said Rebecca Randles, the lawyer handling the case.

"Without question, sexual abuse by priests has caused much pain," said Patrick Rush, the diocese's vicar general. "Our diocese has made it known that we will respond promptly to any allegation of abuse."

According to the diocese, Hart retired as bishop in Wyoming. Reardon stopped functioning as a priest in 1989. O'Brien retired in 2002.

Much of the alleged abuse took place at a retreat at Lake Viking 60 miles north of Kansas City. O'Brien and Reardon took the boys to a small home, provided them alcohol and marijuana, and then abused them.

None of the priests could be reached for comment this morning.

The diocese is also named in the lawsuit, which was filed in Jackson County Circuit Court.

To reach Dan Curry, send e-mail to or call him at 350-6362.