Shawnee Priest on Leave after Abuse Is Alleged

By Dawn Bormann
The Kansas City Star
August 26, 2004

A Shawnee priest has been placed on administrative leave while his religious order investigates an abuse allegation.

The Rev. Thomas Cawley, who assisted at St. Joseph's Church, left the parish earlier this month, according to the Midwest Province of the Congregation of the Mission in St. Louis. Cawley belongs to the Vincentian religious order and reports to the St. Louis mission.

Provincial James Swift said the alleged abuse happened 23 to 25 years ago.

The complaint was lodged in early August, and Cawley was placed on leave the next day. Swift would not comment further about the allegation.

The alleged victim's attorney did not return phone calls.

Cawley, who is in his 70s, is living in an undisclosed location while an internal investigation is conducted. He will not be allowed to celebrate Mass during the investigation, Swift said.

“He left the parish physically, and I can assure you that he is not involved in any kind of active ministry,” Swift said.

It is the first abuse allegation filed against Cawley, Swift said.

Vincentian attorneys and Swift hope to have a meeting with the complainant and his attorneys.

“We want to listen to the person with the complaint. We want to hear his story so that we can understand it and evaluate it,” Swift said.

The Rev. Charles McGlinn, vicar general at the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, could not be reached for comment.

The investigation is expected to continue for several months, Swift said.

To reach Dawn Bormann, police reporter, call (816) 234-7749.