‘I was abused by a priest’: Victims share stories, concerns regarding clergy abuse

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Tuesday was a night to mourn and heal in the Catholic Community.

About a 100 people gathered at the St. Nicholas of Myra Church in Hays.

Salina Bishop Gerald Vincke and Capuchin Provincial Minster Fr. Christopher Popravak of Denver hosted a listening session for the public to ask questions regarding the 14 cases of clergy abuse out of the Salina Diocese.

Vincke started the meeting off offering his apologies. Emotions were high in the meeting.

“The greater betrayal is the church Bishops,” said an attendee in the audience. “The greater church covered this up. That’s what makes me angry.”

Other attendees said they were shocked they recognized several of the 14 names.

“Father John Walsh was a good man, and I can’t even fathom his name was on that list,” another attendee said. “I see him as a man of so much pride.”

The big question of the night was why don’t these people ever face jail time.

Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees said it’s because the statute of limitations have changed multiple times.

“Most of the time when the victim turns 28, you’ve lost your ability to prosecute. So, many of these allegations are coming forward are 30, 40, 50-years-old.”

However, he and Vincke said they encourage people to report abuse if they hear or see it.

During the meeting, several people came forward sharing how they or their family members were abused by priests.

“I was molested 69 years ago,” said a man in the audience. “I was told I was stupid, and people don’t believe it when a child tells you what happened.”

Another audience member said his son was abused.

Vincke closed the meeting with prayer and encouraged residents to continue asking questions.

One couple told KSN there’s no excuse what happened, but all they can do is pray.

“We are very disturbed what’s going on with the whole diocese, but I think of all the priests need prayers,” Gloria Desh said.

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