Anonymous plaintiff in Kansas City Catholic sex abuse case reveals his name

By Steve Vockrodt
Kansas City Star
December 10, 2018

[with video]

A Nebraska man took to a sidewalk near the entrance of the Catholic Center in downtown Kansas City on Monday to identify himself as the previously anonymous plaintiff alleging sexual abuse by a former priest of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

Kevin Smith, 54, who was accompanied by his lawyer, Rebecca Randles, said the Rev. Thomas Reardon sexually abused him when he was a teenager attending St. Gabriel’s Archangel Catholic Church in Kansas City, North.

Smith was identified as “John SK2 Doe” in a lawsuit filed against Reardon, the diocese and St. Gabriel’s in July.

“I am doing this because I know there are other victims out there that need help,” Smith told reporters. “I want the diocese to join me, to reach out to others that are suffering, to offer more than lip service, symbolic gestures and unfulfilled promises.”

Jack Smith, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, said Reardon was “a known abuser.”

“I expect this case will settle at some point, like several others,” Smith said.

Reardon could not be reached for comment. A phone number listed for him was disconnected. Reardon has been named as a defendant in numerous lawsuits filed in Jackson County by “John Doe” plaintiffs going back several years.

Kevin Smith’s lawsuit accuses the diocese of providing Reardon access to children, failing to keep children safe and not contacting law enforcement or civil authorities about the risk that the former priest posed.

Allegations of sex abuse of children by clergy is an ongoing crisis for the Catholic Church. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said in August that his office would investigate potential sex abuse in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and encouraged cooperation from the Kansas City diocese. Hawley has since been criticized for not pursuing the investigation vigorously enough.

Jack Smith said the Kansas City diocese is cooperating with Hawley’s office.

Two other men who said they had been the victims of clergy abuse also spoke at Monday’s news conference near the Catholic Center.

Larry Davis, a 65-year-old who said he has been the victim of clergy abuse, called on the diocese to release the names of priests and church members who have been accused of abuse.

Smith said the local diocese has not released such a list because the Missouri attorney general’s office is reviewing diocesan files.

“We’re just waiting until that’s completed because it will be a credible list,” Smith said. “It won’t just be us saying it. An outside source will be investigating.”

Michael Sandridge, 54, criticized the diocese for inviting Bishop Robert Finn back to the area earlier this year. Sandridge, who said he’s been victimized by clergy and was one of 32 plaintiffs who settled with the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in 2014, said Finn had attended special masses in the area in recent months.

Smith said that Finn participated in a traditional ceremony for a new monastery for Catholic nuns in Gower, Mo., which straddles Clinton and Buchanan counties. Finn was previously the bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. Finn was found guilty in 2012 of failing to report child abuse suspicions in the case of the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, who had pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography.

Smith said Finn was invited “in part because he’s close to the nuns and in part because he knows how to do the service in Latin, and our current bishop doesn’t.”

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