Priest Placed on Leave Denies Allegation of Sexual Abuse

By Diane Carroll
Kansas City Star (Kansas & Missouri)
September 17, 2002

The pastor of a Roman Catholic church in Prairie Village who has been placed on administrative leave said Monday he was innocent of a sexual abuse allegation.

The Rev. William Haegelin of St. Ann Catholic Church was placed on paid leave Sept. 10. The move came after the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas had received a two-page letter from a man who accused Haegelin of sexually abusing him in the 1980s, when the man was a minor. The archdiocese made the allegation public last Tuesday.

Haegelin, 52, said in a news release Monday that he "would like to state publicly and unequivocally that the accusations made by the person in question are false."

"I look forward to having an opportunity to appear before the Independent Review Board of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas," he said in the statement. It was released through his brother-in-law, Roger L. Hiatt.

The board was expected to interview the alleged victim Monday, said the Rev. Charles McGlinn, the archdiocese's vicar general for personnel. The board is made up of five or six lay persons and the Rev. Raymond Burger, pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Eudora, Kan. Burger said last week the investigation could take two weeks or more.

McGlinn said he and Archbishop James Keleher met Sunday afternoon with a church full of parishioners at St. Ann. Also on hand, he said, was the Rev. Frank Burger of Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Olathe, who is filling in for Haegelin. The town-hall type meeting lasted 90 minutes, he said.

According to The Leaven, the archdiocese's official publication, McGlinn told parishioners that the allegation against Haegelin was worthy of investigation. McGlinn said he had personally interviewed the alleged victim at length. The alleged abuse did not take place at St. Ann, he said.

McGlinn said last week that the man who made the allegation against Haegelin lived out of the area and did not want his identity revealed. The man is in his 30s, McGlinn said, and accused Haegelin of inappropriate sexual relations in the 1980s. McGlinn declined to be more specific about the allegation.

McGlinn said he received the typed letter Sept. 6 and met with Keleher Sept. 8. By the next day, Haegelin had moved out of the rectory.

Haegelin has served at seven parishes since becoming a priest in 1976. He also spent a year attending school for hospital chaplaincy.

In his news release, Haegelin thanked relatives, friends and parishioners who had offered their support.

"My prayers are with my accuser, who is a troubled individual," Haegelin said. "My hope is that he can find it in his heart to admit the untruth of his accusations against me and seek reconciliation for the undeserved pain he has inflicted."


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