Bishop Accountability


Accused Priests:
Total Priests:
Allegations: 5
Cost: "Undetermined"

Dodge, Salina dioceses release sex-abuse stats

By Bill Wilson
Hutchinson News
February 27, 2004

Two of southwest and central Kansas' three Catholic dioceses released statistics this week confirming sexual abuse by priests in their churches.

The statistics were provided in advance of Friday's scheduled release of a study by John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York. The study chronicles the nature and scope of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church of the United States.

Six sexual abuse allegations have been made in the past 52 years against priests in the Diocese of Dodge City. Five were made in the Diocese of Salina, with four of those being documented and two landing in the legal system.

Payments totaling approximately $11,000 were made to three victims in the Dodge City diocese, which covers most of southwest Kansas, said the Rev. Bob Schremmer, vicar general of the diocese.

That money came from the estates of two deceased priests, Schremmer said. The money had been earmarked for special needs and charities. It was used, Schremmer said, for treatment and counseling, not for a financial settlement.

An undetermined amount of insurance money from Catholic Mutual Insurance was used for treatment and counseling associated with the Salina incidents, the Rev. Barry Brinkman said.

Officials at the Wichita diocese declined to release their figures until Friday, after the diocese newspaper, "The Catholic Advance," is delivered to parishioners.

"Obviously, this is a story no one wants to see," Schremmer said. "One case is clearly one case too many. The point of the problem that we're pointing up is that it has been a historical problem."

Brinkman supported that perspective.

"Although it may be difficult to hear and read about the past mistakes and errors the Catholic Church has committed," he said, "hopefully this process will assist everyone in society to grow in its awareness of what child sexual abuse is, how it can be prevented and the outreach that needs to extend to victims."

The incidents in the Dodge City diocese date from around 1950 to 1980, Schremmer said. There have been no sexual abuse allegations in the diocese in the past 20 years, he said.

The Salina incidents date from 1950 through the 1990s, with the most recent occurring in November 1987 and in 1993-94 at Thomas More Prep-Marian, Brinkman said.

Only one of the abuse cases made it to law enforcement.

The Rev. Ron Gilardi, a religious order priest who taught at TMP, pleaded guilty in 2001 to three counts of sexual abuse in a plea agreement with the Ellis County attorney.

He was sentenced to a total of eight years in prison on the charges. After he completes treatment, or at the end of eight years, he will remain on community corrections for another five years.

The 1987 incident involved the Rev. Robert Reif, accused of abuse between 1975 and 1986 in several Kansas cities.

The case eventually was settled out of court in the mid-1990s for an unspecified amount of money, Brinkman said, after setting legal precedent.

The Reif case was a test for a 1992 Kansas law giving childhood sexual abuse victims up to three years after recalling the abuse to file a lawsuit.

The priests accused in the 1970s and 1980s in the Dodge City diocese have either left the priesthood or have been suspended from the ministry, Schremmer said.

Both dioceses have sexual abuse policies in place dating back to at least 1993. The Diocese of Salina has had a policy in place since July 1, 1989, to address sexual abuse allegations against clergy and other church personnel.

It was updated in 2003 to comply with the U.S. bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

It requires a criminal background check for all adults who minister to children in parishes and in Catholic schools, although that requirement began only last fall.

The Dodge City diocese established the "To Protect God's Children" program in 2003. Every adult connected with a parish, school or agency in the diocese must attend a forum on identifying and addressing the warning signs of sexual abuse.

Reporter Bill Wilson can be reached at or at (620) 694-5700, ext. 314.




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