|Two Men Allege Molestation in Lawsuit against Former Priest, Catholic Diocese
By Joe Lambe
Kansas City Star
December 20, 2007
Two men sued a former Roman Catholic priest and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph on Thursday for alleged molestation when the men were altar boys.
John Doe B.B. of Kansas, 52, contends that the Rev. Thomas Reardon sexually abused him in 1968 in the St. Elizabeth rectory in Kansas City after his mother asked the priest to explain "the facts of life" to the 12-year-old boy.
John Doe M.D., 46, of Missouri and his wife contend that Reardon, now 65, abused him at St. Gabriel's parish in Kansas City when Doe was in the fifth to eighth grades.
According to the lawsuits, Reardon kept the boys quiet by persuading them that the acts were a normal part of life or even beneficial.
Reardon, who has 14 other abuse-related lawsuits pending against him in Jackson County, has denied ever abusing children. He declined to comment Thursday. His attorney did not return phone calls.
The lawsuits allege that the diocese was at fault in part for negligent supervision, including covering up Reardon's actions for years. The church also committed fraud and intentionally inflicted distress by portraying Reardon as a responsible priest, the suits contend.
The diocese has not seen the lawsuits, has not learned the plaintiffs' names and is not in a position to comment, a spokeswoman said in a written response. Reardon has not worked as a priest since 1989, she said.
David Biersmith of Kansas City, president of Voice of the Faithful, a church reform group, read statements from the two plaintiffs at a news conference announcing the lawsuits. Describing himself as a former close friend of Reardon's, he said he attended seminary with him many years ago. Reardon, he said, was a charming man who could easily manipulate children.
Doe M.D. wrote that he felt he had been violated, lost his innocence and more: "I lost my faith, I lost respect for myself as well as others," Biersmith read. "I feel I have lost a part of my life."
According to Doe M.D.'s lawsuit:
Reardon first abused him in the St. Gabriel's rectory after calling him out of grief counseling class when the boy was in the fifth grade. Reardon kept calling him out of classes for more abuse in the rectory and sometimes gave him money and alcohol. He also molested him in the sacristy before the start of Mass.
Doe B.B.'s written statement said that he did not tell anyone of his abuse at age 12 because he was too scared. He now understands that to end such sexual abuse in the church, people must come forward.
David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, urged other abuse victims to do the same. He said one of these plaintiffs finally came forward after a recent media account about Reardon and another priest.
Last month, The Kansas City Star revealed widespread allegations of abuse against Reardon and Monsignor Thomas O'Brien, whom many adolescent boys called the "party priests."
Other lawsuits against both men detail accusations of rape, sodomy, oral sex and masturbatory acts. The lawsuits allege a pattern of molestation that began in the early 1960s with O'Brien and continued with Reardon through the 1980s.
The lawsuits contend that the priests used their positions of power to prey on youngsters, plying them with alcohol, groping them and sometimes offering money for sex.
Since 2004, a dozen men have sued O'Brien, 81, who denies all the allegations. Those and the 16 lawsuits against Reardon make up the bulk of at least 32 pending Jackson County lawsuits against priests or former priests.
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