Evansville Diocese Says Claims of Sex Abuse against Late Priest "Unsubstantiated"
By Abbey Doyle
Courier & Press
June 26, 2020
EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Bishop Joseph M. Siegal said Friday he found claims of sexual misconduct against a now-deceased priest were "unsubstantiated" after an Evansville Diocese investigation.
In response, the family of the accuser called the announcement, and the investigation itself, "absurd and offensive."
Testifying in front of the Indiana Senate Judiciary Committee in February 2019, Christopher Compton said the Rev. Raymond Kuper sexually abused him multiple times when Compton was 9 years old.
He accused of Kuper of "borderline brainwashing" him.
Kuper died in 2012.
Speaking to reporters at the Diocese of Evansville Catholic Center, Bishop Joseph M. Siegel, said: "On the recommendation of the Diocesan Review Board, I have found that this allegation cannot be substantiated."
Siegal said the individual made a formal statement to the Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator in August 2018. He said the diocese immediately reported the allegation to civil authorities.
He said he directed a private investigator to conduct "as thorough and detailed an investigation as possible into the late Father Kuper’s life and ministry in the diocese."
That report was presented to Siegel. He said he relayed the report and documentation to the Diocesan Review Board for its review, evaluation and recommendation back to him.
The investigation did not uncover information that substantiated the individual’s allegation, according to the Diocese.
"No other allegation against Father Kuper has been received," Siegal said.
In a statement to the Courier & Press on Friday afternoon, Aimee Compton, Chris' wife, said the diocese never involved the family in the investigation, despite having their contact information. Church officials claimed they sent the family a certified letter during the investigation, but the family never received it.
"As always, we are left disgusted and disappointed by the actions of Bishop Siegel and the Evansville Diocese," the statement read. "It should come as no surprise that they have cleared their own of any wrongdoing, and to say their investigation was 'thorough' is absurd and offensive."
The Courier & Press doesn’t usually name accusers of sex crimes, but Chris Compton testified in a public meeting and has been named in other publications as well. Video of the hearing is available on the state website.
Compton and several others testified in favor of Senate Bill 219, which would give accusers more time to pursue civil cases in incidents that have long exceeded the statute of limitations.
Compton told legislators the reported abuse occurred when he was a student at Christ the King School. According to his obituary, Kuper was pastor at Christ the King from 1977 to 1987.
Both Compton and his mother, Kim, testified in front of the committee. They spoke of the difficulties Compton had as a child after the purported abuse.
Chris Compton said he kept everything a secret until August 2018 when he came forward to his mother and other members of his family. He decided to speak out to advocate for all victims of childhood sex abuse.
Kuper served in various roles at several churches throughout the diocese. In addition to Christ the King, he worked as a pastor at St. Agnes and Holy Rosary churches in Evansville, as well as at St. Bernard Church in Rockport. According to his obituary, all those parishes were affiliated with elementary schools.
He also served as superintendent of former Evansville Rex Mundi High School.
From 1972-77, he was diocesan superintendent, which meant he oversaw every school in the Diocese.
He retired in 2006.
The Diocese has a scholarship named after him. The Raymond Kuper Service Award is given to two students who “exemplify the late Father Kuper’s commitment to youth and Catholic education.”
The Diocese said anyone alleging sexual abuse of a minor by a person ministering on behalf of the church should report that to "public authorities." After that, persons presenting allegations are asked to contact the Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator at 812-490-9565 or toll-free at 866-200- 3004.