Des Moines Diocese Statement
Diocesan Response to Media Inquiries

Diocese of Des Moines
Reprinted by
April 28, 2005

We are aware that a lawsuit has been filed against the Diocese of Des Moines and a priest by a man alleging sexual abuse when he was a minor.

The man who filed this suit made a number of complaints and accusations against Father Leonard Kenkel. The man claims he was sexually abused nearly 40 years ago.

The Allegation Review Committee for the Diocese of Des Moines reviewed these complaints and allegations. The Allegation Review Committee is a group of expert volunteers that was created pursuant to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People adopted in 2002 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Allegation Review Committee (whose members include a police detective who does sexual abuse investigations, an attorney with experience prosecuting child abuse cases, a psychologist who has conducted research on child abuse and a judge who has handled juvenile and criminal cases involving child abuse and neglect) reviewed several complaints of past abuse over the last few years. On three occasions in the past, the Allegation Review Committee found evidence of abuse and recommended removing priests from the ministry. Bishop Joseph Charron followed these recommendations.

The Allegation Review Committee met with both the Plaintiff in this lawsuit and with Father Kenkel. After conducting its investigation, the Committee found there was not sufficient evidence for a finding of sexual abuse. The Allegation Review Committee did not recommend Father Kenkel be removed from ministry, but did recommend to Bishop Charron that Father Kenkel meet with a professional to help him better understand personal space and recognition of appropriate boundaries for physical contact, which he has done.

While no process is perfect, the Diocese of Des Moines places great faith in the Allegation Review Committee. The Diocese has made a concerted effort to reach out to victims of abuse by clergy and to those who believe they were victims. Nevertheless, the Diocese will vigorously defend any claim that has been determined to lack any basis in fact.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.