Former Abuser's Move to Kc Sparks Anger

By Judy L. Thomas
Kansas City Star
July 20, 2010

The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph isn't doing enough to alert parishioners about abusive priests living under the radar in the area, an activist group said Monday.

"We've seen no indication where church officials have taken proactive measures to warn families and communities about these dangerous men," said David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

Clohessy cited the case of Tom Ericksen, a former priest in the Diocese of Superior, Wis., who was the subject of a multimillion-dollar sex abuse case settled in 1989. Ericksen was removed from the priesthood in 1988 but has never been criminally charged.

Last week, the Duluth News Tribune reported that Ericksen has been living in Kansas City and volunteering for the past three years with the Special Olympics. When a Special Olympics official learned of the allegations against Ericksen, he said Ericksen would be suspended, according to the Duluth newspaper.

Ericksen said in a phone interview Monday that there was no reason for the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese to inform area Catholics about his case.

"The original problem happened in '83, and there's been nothing since then," he said. "I have behaved myself totally legally."

He said the 1989 lawsuit in Wisconsin included the bishops as defendants "because they knew I had problems and they still moved me around."

Rebecca Summers, spokeswoman for the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, said Ericksen has never had a ministerial role in the diocese and is not registered as a member of any area parish.

But Clohessy said the diocese still shares some responsibility.

"Here you've got a proven serial predator who has moved into an unsuspecting community, changed jobs, and is not just around vulnerable kids, but around especially vulnerable kids," he said.

The diocese should also follow the lead of two dozen others around the country and post on its website the names of credibly accused priests living in the area, Clohessy said



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