Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas

By Shaun Hittle
Lawrence Journal-World
June 25, 2010

[See other parts of this two-year investigation into the Kansas Catholic Church.]

Representatives from the Archdiocese provided information about several clergy accused of abuse, but would not agree to an interview, and didn't provide information about the number of total allegations made against clergy.


James Forsythe: Served at Holy Cross Church in Overland Park and admitted to molesting a 15-year-old boy about 20 times in the late 1980s while at Holy Cross, according to published reports.

In 1989, Forsythe pleaded guilty in a Johnson County court to attempted indecent liberties with a child. Forsythe served three months in prison and was released on four years' probation. After prison, spent seven months at a Catholic residential facility in New Mexico. Church officials say Forsythe was removed from the Church.

In 2002, the New York Times reported that Forsythe had moved to South Dakota, where he was ministering at the Metropolitian Community Church in the Black Hills in South Dakota. Forsythe is currently listed on the Florida sex offender registry, and his current listed home address is in Fort Lauderdale.

Recent Florida Department of Corrections photo of James Forsythe, a former Kansas priest now listed on the Florida sex offender registry. Florida Department of Corrections

Dennis Schmitz: Lived and worked in Lawrence from the 1990s until 2001. Served at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at Kansas University, St. Ann's in Prairie Village and Queen of the Holy Rosary in Overland Park. Sentenced in 2002 in Douglas County to 32 months in prison for indecent liberties with a child. Released from prison in June 2006. Listed on the state of Kansas' sex offender registry.

Kansas Department of Corrections photo of Dennis Schmitz, a former Lawrence priest convicted in 2002 of sexually abusing a Lawrence teen. Kansas Department of Corrections

Unnamed priest: A federal prisoner filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kan., in Shawnee County in March 2006. The plaintiff alleges that a priest abused him on several occasions between 1980 and 1982. The lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice because the suit was not properly served to the defendant, although the case can be refiled by the plaintiff, according to court documents.

Archdiocese officials said the priest had been accused of sexual abuse and was laicized, or defrocked, the Catholic Church's process of removing a clergy from the Church. However, the Archdiocese would not provide additional information about whether the priest was laicized because of sexual abuse.

Unnamed priest: Accused of sexually abusing a minor in the 1980s, and after an investigation, was laicized in what a Church representative called a "mutual agreement." Church officials said that they could not determine whether the allegations occurred against a minor or adult.

The priest served in a Johnson County church.

William Finnerty: Church officials said a woman made accusations of sexual abuse by Finnerty occurring more than 30 years prior when the accuser was a minor. During the church investigation, recommendations were made to continue to house Finnerty, who was in ailing health, at a care facility with restrictions upon church duties. Finnerty died in October 2009 at age 82, according to the Leaven, the Archdiocesan newspaper.

St. Benedict's Abbey in Atchison

Donald Redmond: "Removed from public ministry" by officials at St. Benedict's in 2002 due to allegations of sexual abuse. Redmond still resides at St. Benedict's. Named in a document provided by the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, listing "credibly accused" abusive clergy who had served in the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa.

Served at Sacred Heart parish in Sabetha, Kan., dates unknown, and also served in Seneca from 1961 to 1964, according to published reports.

Camillus Wurtz: "Removed from public ministry" due to allegations of sexual abuse, according to officials at St. Benedict's. Still resides at St. Benedict's.

Placidus Kieffer: Church officials said Kieffer had been accused of sexual abuse but they were not made aware of accusations until Kieffer left St. Benedict's. However, officials did not provide any further information about those accusations. Kieffer was also named in a document released by the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, in which they released a list of all "credibly accused" sexual abusive clergy who had served in the diocese.

He died in 1990, according to St. Benedict's Abbey.

Related Document: Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, report.

John (also known as Fidelis) Forrester: Worked in Seneca and Atchison, as well as Burlington, Iowa. St. Benedict's officials confirm there were accusations made against Forrester, but said they were not informed of the accusations until after Forrester's 2002 death. According to a 2005 National Catholic Reporter article, St. Benedict's was involved in a $2.6 million legal settlement with the Seattle Archdiocese regarding Forrester's alleged abuse of seven victims. A settlement also was made in November 2006 between the Archdiocese of Seattle and four victims for $1.41 million. The abuse allegedly occurred while Forrester was assigned to Holy Rosary Church in West Seattle in the 1970s, according to published reports.

Forrester was also named in a document released by the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, in which they released a list of all "credibly accused" sexual abusive clergy who had served in the diocese.

Order priests

Unnamed Priest: An order priest from Missouri, served at a church in Johnson County and was accused in an ongoing lawsuit of molesting a 10-year-old boy while serving at a church overseas in the late 1970s, according to published reports. The allegations do not pertain to abuse committed while the priest was serving in Kansas.

Rebecca Randles, the attorney for the plantiff, said the case will likely be dismissed soon, as they are close to reaching a settlement with the Church on the case. The priest is retired.

Finian Meis: A Capuchin order priest who served in both the Salina and Kansas City, Kan., dioceses was accused by a man and a woman of sexual abuse. One victim alleged abuse by Meis while he served in the Salina Diocese, but it occurred when she was 18. The other victim accused Meis of abuse while he served at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Shawnee in the 1970s when the victim was a minor.

The chair of the Capuchin sexual abuse review board said allegations of sexual abuse by Meis were brought to the board in October 2003. The board investigated and found that abuse was "more likely than not" to have occurred. Financial payments were made to the victim abused in the Salina Diocese. Meis was dismissed from the Church in 1986 and later laicized.

In a letter to parishioners in May 2010, Church officials announced they would remove a picture of Meis that had hung at the Church of the Good Shepherd. The letter cited the allegations of sexual abuse against Meis as the reason for the picture's removal. Meis died in 1997, according to the Social Security Death Index.

Norman Charles "Chuck" Wolfe: A Capuchin order priest was accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy while he served at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Shawnee in 1976 and 1977. The allegations were brought to the Capuchin sexual abuse review board in 2005, where it was determined that "his allegations were believable," according to the board chair. A lawsuit was also filed against the Capuchins regarding the alleged abuse, but it was dismissed due to statute of limitations. The victim, however, was paid $25,000 as compensation after the lawsuit was dismissed, according to Church officials.



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