Capital Diocese Not Told of Priest's Past Abuse
By Jennifer Garza and Dorothy Korber
July 11, 2003
A Roman Catholic priest now assigned to Sacramento's St. Francis of Assisi parish was removed from the ministry in Oregon last year after he admitted to sexual misconduct with minors decades ago.
The Rev. Gus Krumm was relocated here six weeks ago by his Franciscan order, which never informed the Sacramento Diocese of his past problems.
Krumm lives in the St. Francis friary, next to the parish elementary school in midtown.
"We didn't think we had to tell them," said Brother John Kiesler, spokesman for the Province of St. Barbara, the Franciscan regional headquarters.
"We are a religious community; we are separate. But we do want to cooperate with the diocese."
The Catholic Church has been rocked for the past 18 months by revelations of sexual abuse by priests, prompting the nation's bishops to promise reform. In light of that, the Sacramento situation is especially disheartening, advocates for victims said.
"It's very disappointing -- my heart sinks," said David Clohessy, national director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.
"Basically, what the Franciscans are saying is: 'We didn't tell them, because we didn't have to.' It's the same old thing. Nothing has changed."
Officials for the Sacramento Diocese said they were not aware of Krumm's previous misconduct -- or even his presence at St. Francis -- until Wednesday, the same day The Bee raised questions about the priest.
"We're discouraged," said Father David Deibel, vicar for canonical affairs for the diocese. "But we're determined to establish and maintain open lines of communication between dioceses and the various religious orders on these kind of issues.
"We are working together to ensure the safety of children and to communicate with the community."
Krumm, who is 49, did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday and Thursday.
Members of religious orders, such as the Franciscans, answer to the heads of their own religious communities, according the Rev. James Murphy of the Sacramento Diocese.
Bishop William K. Weigand was on vacation Thursday and could not be reached for comment. It was unclear what action the diocese might take, now that officials here are aware of Krumm's past.
"The bishop does not normally interfere with parishes run by religious orders," Murphy said, "but the bishop does have the right to intervene in parish matters if the situation justifies it."
In May 2002, Krumm was removed from his post as pastor of Ascension Catholic Church in Portland, Ore., immediately after he acknowledged sexual misconduct during his years at St. Anthony's Seminary in Santa Barbara. Details of Krumm's admission were not made public.
Since leaving the seminary in 1987, Krumm has served as a parish priest in Huntington Beach and in Portland.
No accusations of sexual misconduct were made against him in either parish, according to church officials.
The Santa Barbara seminary was the scene of a major sex-abuse scandal for the church. A 1993 report by an independent review board implicated 11 friars at the school, saying 34 students had been molested over a 23-year period.
Krumm was one of the 11 friars, according to Ray Higgins, a member of the board.
Higgins, whose own son was among the St. Anthony victims, said Thursday that he was angry to learn that the Franciscans had moved Krumm to a parish near a school. "It shows that they have no regard for the protection of children, despite what they say," he said.
Although Krumm is no longer an active priest, Higgins said that distinction means nothing to children. "He's a priest, with the same respect and with the same access to children as any parish priest," he said.
The Franciscans defended their actions.
Kiesler, their spokesman, said there are no clear-cut rules for how religious communities should report such things to local bishops.
As for Krumm, Kiesler said he is not a danger to children. The priest has gone through therapy, according to Kiesler, and his behavior is being monitored "internally and externally."
"This is not a case where somebody was dumped," he said. "This is a person who is reconstructing his life and doing good for people. He is not allowed to go over there (to the St. Francis school)."
The Bee's Jennifer Garza can be reached at (916) 321-1133 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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