Wichita attorney talks about investigating Wichita Catholic Diocese files

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Attorney Stephen Robison with Fleeson, Gooning, Coulson & Kitch recently released the findings of his investigation into the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, to the Diocese.

“The Diocese asked me specifically to conduct an investigation into the clergy files that the diocese has,” said Robison. “I’ve done many internal investigations over the years, and I suspect that may be why they asked me.”

Robison says he had access to what the Catholic Church refers to as secret files.

“But the diocese keeps three sets of files. They have general information files, they have confidential files and then they have secret files, and I reviewed all of those files.”

Robison says he uncovered nine priests that have what he calls substantiated cases of abuse against them. Six of those priests have passed away.

The investigation covered more than a 1,000 different files, some of which are locked in a vault. The only person in the church to access that vault is the Bishop.

Robison got access.

“It was a lengthy investigation. Some files I had to go through more than once and the secret files for example are kept in a safe and only the bishop has access to that,” said Robison.

There is information that Robison can not release because of attorney-client privilege.

We asked him if he could release to KSN the names of more alleged victims.

“No, I am not. As I said, those were in the files, and there were numerous victims,” said Robison. “I saw the names of those people, but I am not authorized to release any of those victims names.”

KSN also asked Robison if he considered going to law enforcement with his findings. Again, he said his information obtained goes back to attorney-client privilege.

“I believe it will be released to law enforcement,” said Robison. “They will be the ones to look into it to see if there will be prosecution.”

Harvey County Attorney David Yoder says there could still be prosecution in some cases, even though some of the allegations go back 30 years or more.

“That is possible. It depends on exactly what is alleged and when it was alleged to happen. There is no statute of limitations on rape anymore,” said Yoder. “There are some extensions of time on sex allegations that could extend the statute of limitations. A repressed memory or actions taken to hide the crime and intimidate the victim. There are some very specifically defined parameters to go beyond normal statute of limitations.”

Robison says he is not Catholic and has no ties to the church.

He also says during his investigation, the church and bishop were responsive.

“The diocese was completely cooperative, and when I wanted access to a document, they gave it to me,” said Robison.

Digital Extra: Locations where accused priests have served in Kansas

Note: Above map includes data provided by the dioceses of Salina and Kansas City in Kansas. No data is available for dioceses of Wichita and Dodge City.

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