Former Topeka priest denies allegation of sexual abuse at Most Pure Heart of Mary
By Katie Moore
March 3, 2019
A Catholic priest is denying an allegation of sexual abuse made by a woman who contends she was abused as a minor while attending Most Pure Heart of Mary School in Topeka.
Rev. William Bruning announced at Mass services over the weekend at Queen of the Holy Rosary Church in Overland Park that a woman in her 30s has accused Bruning of abusing her.
“Father Bruning emphatically denies the allegation and intends to fully defend his reputation against what he insists is a false allegation,” the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas said in a statement.
Bruning is a priest in good standing, according to the archdiocese, who first learned of the allegation in June 2015 when Bruning was at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Kansas City, Kan.
The archdiocese said the allegation was based on recovered memories. They reported it to law enforcement, and Bruning was asked to refrain from public ministry pending the outcome of an investigation. The archdiocese’s report investigator interviewed Bruning, the alleged victim and others.
The archdiocese’s independent review board couldn’t substantiate the claim, and Bruning returned to active ministry.
In October 2018, the woman notified the archdiocese that she had recovered additional memories. The case was reopened. The review board didn’t find the allegation credible and determined Bruning’s denial was credible.
Last month, the woman communicated to the archdiocese that she wasn’t satisfied with the outcome. Bruning and Archbishop Joseph Naumann agreed to disclose the claim and information about the archdiocese’s findings.
David Clohessy, a member of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said he hopes the woman will contact the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. The KBI is investigating reports of sexual abuse by clergy at Kansas dioceses and has asked for victims to step forward with information.
Clohessy said he doesn’t have confidence in investigations that are conducted by the archdiocese.
“We have little faith in these church-run investigations, in which a church-paid individual reports to a bishop-appointed panel,” he said. “Very often these handpicked groups of mostly devout Catholics misjudge these cases. Calling the independent professionals in law enforcement is the best way to uncover the truth.”
In January, the archdiocese released the names of 22 clergy with substantiated claims of sexual abuse involving a minor. Topeka cases involved Lawrence Ginzkey at Holy Name; John J. Harrington at Stormont Vail and a local convalescent home; Martin Juarez at St. Matthew and Our Lady of Guadalupe; Edward Roberts at Holy Name; Frank Schepers at Holy Name; and Christopher Rossman at Mother Teresa.
SNAP identified six additional names.