Bishop Accountability


We are here today [July 10, 1998] to announce a resolution of six years of litigation in the Dallas Catholic Diocese by the victims of Father Rudy Kos and to announce the beginning of other very important events.

While this effort has consumed six years and now one year since the verdict, and it has been difficult and painful, it has also been a very necessary journey. And while this is a resolution of litigation, it is not the end of this story.

1) These victims will have to confront and deal with what happened to them for the rest of their lives.
2) For many of them a significant part of what they are recovering will be used to pay for medical treatment and to replace lost earnings.
3) They are deeply committed to do what they can to prevent sexual abuse in all institutions, and that effort will continue in future years.

Description of Settlement:
1) Payment of $23.4 million to eight victims whose cases were tried but not yet settled; and to one victim whose case was filed subsequent to the trial.
2) The Dallas Catholic Diocese will promptly implement a sex abuse risk audit, adopt recommended changes and report back in one year.
3) The Bishop has issued an important statement to help promote healing of these and other similar victims

Sex Abuse Risk Reduction:
It is our hope and expectation that the sexual abuse risk audit and the counter-measures that will be implemented because of this audit will become a necessary model for abuse prevention, not only in Catholic Dioceses everywhere, but that it will be implemented by all institutions confronted with a risk of sexual abuse.

While such abuse and its accompanying pain and cost may not be eliminated, we know that risk audits such as the Diocese will now implement, combined with appropriate follow-up, will significantly reduce the risk of institutional sex abuse.

Our belief in the high importance of securing a strong commitment of the Dallas Diocese to this program was one factor that has held up a resolution of this case for many weeks.

Because of the commitments Bishop Grahmann and the Dallas Diocese are today making, we believe this Diocese, if it will seize the moment, is now positioned to become the model for risk prevention and to lead the Catholic Church and similar institutions toward the elimination of child sexual abuse. The Bishop's agreements made in this settlement is a sign of that commitment.

The Bishop's Statement
Because the jury's verdict and the trial court's judgment on that verdict were so vitally important to a validation and affirmation of these victims, the judgment could not be simply set aside by the payment of money.

As a result, this issue consumed many weeks of negotiations.

In place of the judgment, the Bishop has issued the following statement:

Bishop's Statement -
This settlement brings closure to a long period of sadness for all of us. There are no simple solutions when confronting terrible acts such as those inflicted by Rudy Kos. To the victims and their families, I once again want to apologize on behalf of the Diocese. Based on what we know now, the decisions made concerning Rudy Kos were errors in human judgment. we accept the burden of the verdict. I regret very much what happened, and I am deeply sorry for your pain.The Diocese acknowledges the trial, the verdict and the judgment. The Diocese and its insurers have now offered and are paying monetary compensation to the victims in settlement of the litigation. For that reason, the judgment is being released and vacated.I can tell you we have instituted new programs and policies to try to prevent this from happening again. Hopefully this settlement will provide us with a new beginning so that we can walk humbly with our God.
Most Reverend Charles V. Grahmann
End of statement.

While the Bishop has previously apologized for the wrongful conduct of Rudy Kos, this is the first acknowledgment of the wrongful conduct and apology for the conduct of the Diocese itself.

At the close of the trial, the jury had written a message to the Bishop, asking him to implement changes at the Diocese and to acknowledge its wrongdoing so the validation and healing of these victims could take place. We are pleased that today the Bishop has affirmatively responded to the jury's request.

Finally, I want to also tell you that these victims and their attorney are today announcing their own funding and creation of a significant internet web site to serve as a clearinghouse for information and assistance about institutional sex abuse. This site will be accessible to victims and their representatives as well as organizations that want to reduce the risk of sex abuse in their own institution to the lowest possible level.


This case is about children. How we love them. How we protect them. How they lift us when they smile. How we cry at their hurt.

This case is about children. Their innocence. Their vulnerability. Their search for a place. Their love so generously given.

This case is about children. The most important resource of our communities, of our institutions. To those of us who have been blessed with them, they are the most precious things on this earth. And no one who has been in this room for the past 2 1/2 months will ever see children in quite the same way again.

I know it may not come easy for some of you to realize the importance and the consequence of the task you have undertaken. But your decisions will reach far beyond this room and this city. It is true, please believe me, that today you will begin to speak to the world about children. What you say here, and what you do here, will be heard across this Nation and in many other important locations in this world.

As you begin your task, please remember, sometimes it is necessary for a jury to help an institution that has become lost to find its way again. There is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes it needs and requires a hard push in the right direction.

Mr. Mathis will tell you in a few minutes that Father Kos fooled everyone. That he was hard to catch and fooled the parents, the staff, the doctors, and other priests. But (one of the victims' mothers) said it right when she responded to one of Mr. Mathis' questions: “Father Kos didn't fool the parents, the Diocese fooled them.”

It was, after all, the Diocese which recruited Rudy Kos. It was the Diocese that created a priest of him, the Diocese that provided his access to children, the Diocese that had the power to control him.

It was the Diocese of Dallas that misrepresented Rudy Kos to parents and parishioners as celibate and chaste, sexually safe for children, trustworthy and morally upright. The defendant did not exercise ordinary care in ascertaining the accuracy of the information it communicated and that was neglect.


May 23, 1993 - First lawsuit against the Dallas Catholic Diocese is filed.

May 2, 1997 - Jury selection begins. Jurors are selected from a pool of over 800.

May 15, 1997 - Trial begins before State Court Judge Anne Ashby in Dallas.

May 16, 1997 - Testimony begins with Kos' 2 younger brothers saying Kos repeatedly abused them. Appearing by videotape, the brothers said they would have told church officials that Kos was unfit to be a priest if they had been asked. They said he repeatedly abused them sexually when they were younger and Kos spent a year in a juvenile detention facility for abusing a neighbor. Testimony of Kathleene Hetzel Winkler, Kos' ex-wife, was read to the jury. In her testimony she said she met Kos in the 5the grade and lived with him only about 6 months after their marriage in 1966. She said they never consummated the marriage. Ms. Winkler also testified she told church officials Kos was gay and had problems with little boys, during an interview needed to annul the marriage.

May 20, 1997 - A psychiatrist who examined Fr. Kos testified that Kos was a sexual opportunist who should have been kept away from children. Dr. Jay Feierman worked at the New Mexico treatment center where Kos was sent for 14 months starting in 1992. "People like that should no longer have access to children - period," Dr. Feierman said. "If they had confirmed observations that this person is a pied piper with kids following him around, that in itself is a reason for concern. The 2,000 year old rule of the church is don't ask, don't tell."

May 22, 1997 - A second plaintiff testified he was abused by Fr. Kos in the rectory of All Saints Catholic Church in North Dallas. The man's mother said she blamed herself for the abuse. She testified that she was a devout Catholic with priests in her own family and that she never imagined what was happening. "It was a den of iniquity, an evil place. I was taken advantage of by a priest, a man of God that I had grown up to believe was better than the average person."

May 23, 1997 - Fr. Kos's superior at St. Luke's Catholic Church in Irving testified that he kept a detailed log of the comings and goings of young boys from Kos' room in the rectory. Fr. Daniel Clayton told the jury he sent the log to Monsignor Robert Rehkemper, who was then the No. 2 official in the Diocese. Also a psychiatrist that examined one of the young men testified he will need more than a decade of intensive therapy to prevent him from committing suicide for problems related to the abuse.

May 27, 1997 - A 1986 letter from Father Clayton showed the warned church officials that Kos was spending too much time with young boys. The letter, sent to Bishop Thomas Tschoepe 6 years before Kos was suspended, warned that something should be done. "I will not play psychologist, but I feel anxious about the situation," Clayton wrote. "My instincts tell me to do nothing is not a solution."

May 28, 1997 - A young man abused by Father Kos testified that the suspended priest called him several times from a New Mexico pedophile treatment facility. The man said Kos told him the Diocese had sent him there for stress treatment. Also, Father Robert Williams, the associate pastor at St. John's, testified that he was alarmed from the first day Kos arrived at the church about the amount of time he spent with boys. He also testified he saw Kos in his rectory bed with a boy in his room.

May 29, 1997 - A Catholic committee on sexual abuse decided not to tell parishioners that Fr. Kos had been sent to a New Mexico pedophile treatment facility. Instead, church officials read parishioners a letter that said Kos had voluntarily resigned to seek treatment for stress. Fr. Williams, an assistant at St. John's who read a letter prepared by the Diocese about Kos to parishioners, testified he was angry that he and parishioners were not told the truth about why Kos left. "The Diocese asked you to read the parish a lie?" Windle Turley asked Fr. Williams. "Yes." Fr. Williams replied.

May 30, 1997 - Judge Ashby threatened to hold Monsignor Rehkemper in contempt of court for refusing to directly answer questions about his supervision of Fr. Kos. Rehkemper, the No. 2 official in the Diocese, was warned by the Judge about being "defiant" and was instructed to speak with his attorney outside of the court about the ramifications of failing to answer questions. Rehkemper later testified he had first met with a priest concerned about Kos' behavior with boys in 1986, 7 years before the first youth complained. Rehkemper testified the Diocese took no actions against Kos because there was no proof that abuse had actually occurred.

July 21, 1997 - Closing arguments in the case are given. The jury begins deliberations.

July 24, 1997 - Jury returns verdict and finds the Diocese liable for gross neglect. Jury awards damages of more than a million dollars for each plaintiff.

July 30, 1997 - Motion to Recuse Judge Ashby filed by Diocese.

September 19, 1997 - Order denying Motion to Recuse.

January 29, 1998 - Judgment entered for over $154,000,000 in favor of plaintiffs.

7/98 - Diocese, Kos victims settle for $23.4 million
Bishop apologizes, vows to prevent abuse


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