Letters Allege Prior Knowledge of Abuse Allegations against Swfl Priest

By Jeremiah Jacobsen

August 7, 2008

[with video]

Video FORT MYERS - Letters from attorneys for alleged abuse victims claim some in the Catholic church knew about allegations against a former Southwest Florida priest.

In a suit filed this week, four men accuse Father Dennis Killion of sexual abuse, starting in the 1980's, when he worked at a school in Delaware.

From 2006 to this past June, Killion was an activities director at Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers."They sent him to Florida anyway and put him in his target population," said attorney John C. Manly.

Attorneys claim the letters, between one of the alleged victims and Father Dennis Killion's order of priests, show they had been told about allegations against Killion at least four years before he came to Bishop Verot in Fort Myers.

"The letters establish that not only did they know, they had talked to the victim, they communicated with the victim. One of the letters is dated 2002," Manly said.

The victims' attorneys say one response from the order, dated November 2002, suggests prior knowledge by two of Killion's superiors. The letter says, "both of these men are aware of the concerns that have been raised surrounding Father Killion."

When asked about the allegations on Monday, Bishop Verot's principal said Killion had gone through all standard background checks, and the Diocese of Venice tells WINK News he also passed a criminal screening.

"Would not have been here in any way, shape or form, if there had been anything that would have led me or the Diocese or anyone in the Obilates to be concerned that he might be a threat," said Bishop Verot principal, Father Chris Beretta.

But the victims' attorneys say Killion's superiors, at least in Delaware, did know more, yet did nothing to stop Killion from continuing to work with teens.

"People have a right to expect more from a faith-based institution," Manly said.

Again, the letter exchange was with Killion's Oblates, or order of priests, not the diocese he served in Delaware.

Killion left his position in Fort Myers in June; none of these allegations involve his time here.

WINK News was unable to reach anyone with Bishop Verot for their response to the letters released Wednesday.


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