TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A new report has been released from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) focusing on allegations of sexual abuse of children by members of the Catholic clergy in Kansas.

The report, ordered on Nov. 15, 2018, by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, comes from the KBI and also focuses on investigating criminal allegations of sexual abuse from clergy members associated with the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), a non-traditional branch of the Catholic Church.

The investigation took into account cases from 1950-2022, resulting in more than 40,000 pages of records. The KBI received 224 tips, interviewed 137 victims of abuse, initiated 125 criminal cases and distributed 30 charging affidavits to the appropriate prosecutors for charging consideration.

No charges have been filed yet due to statute of limitations concerns, according to the KBI. The investigation identified 188 clergy members suspected of committing various criminal acts, to include: aggravated criminal sodomy, rape, aggravated indecent liberties with a child and aggravated sexual battery.

It should not go without saying that the abuses revealed during the investigation had a profound effect on the victims, the families of victims and our task force members. Our task force members found countless examples of inspiration while working with the victims of clergy sexual abuse. Those victims, whose lives have been traumatically affected by what happened to them as a child, have shown hope, strength and perseverance in the face of extreme adversity. It is our deepest and most sincere hope these victims find a way to continue to survive and heal. And for those victims who are still traumatized who did not report, it is our hope they find the strength to seek help. Please find attached the KBI Catholic Clergy Task Force Executive Summary for your review.

Kirk Thompseon, KBI director

The investigation documents state that the investigation into Catholic clergy members in Kansas began after Schmidt received a request from Kansas City Archdiocese Archbishop Joseph Naumann to investigate each diocese. On Jan. 28, 2019, the KBI launched its Catholic Clergy Task Force (CCTF) which was composed of eight agents with the following objectives:

  • Conduct a thorough review of the available records, and conduct interviews when relevant;
  • Evaluate the church s response and actions to allegations of sexual misconduct
    when made known to them; and
  • Identify crimes that have been committed and, if sufficient evidence exists,
    present the case to the appropriate county/district attorney for consideration of
    criminal charges

All three bishops in Kansas complied with the KBI investigation, which was “massive in scale.” The CCTF started 125 criminal investigations, reviewed more than 200 crime tips from survivors, reviewed more than 40,000 pages of documents and interviewed dozens of victims, witnesses and suspects in 15 different states.

The KBI report states that the Church’s handling of abuse allegations was generally similar to issues reported by a 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury investigation. Practices used by the Church, intentionally or not, served to obscure the truth about both the allegations of child abuse and sexual assault and their handling of such allegations, according to the KBI.

The KBI report goes on to say that the practices used by members of the Church, in some instances collectively and in others by individuals, resulted in significant obstacles for the investigation. These challenges included:

  • Some victims were reluctant to provide information because they had previously signed a non-disclosure agreement with the church associated with a civil suit.
  • In many cases, the victims, or the priests, were deceased.
  • Church officials frequently used language or terms that minimized the
    seriousness or severity of actions and abuse by Church clergy.
  • Church officials occasionally failed to report incidents to law enforcement or child
    protection services.
  • Church officials frequently failed to provide transparent communication to
    parishioners.
  • Inadequacies within the Catholic diocese’s recordkeeping policies and systems
    resulted in the intentional or accidental deletion of records documenting or
    relating to allegations of sexual abuse. Diocesan records documenting or
    relating to the allegations of sexual abuse were disorganized and scattered.
  • Most of the investigations conducted by the dioceses into past allegations of
    sexual abuse were inconsistent and inadequate.
  • Each of the dioceses frequently failed to follow its own policies and procedures
    relating to allegations of sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy.
  • Church officials frequently attempted to avoid scandal and failed to hold
    offenders accountable; including transferring offending priests to new parishes,
    continuing to financially support offending priests, failing to remove offending priests from their status as priests, and failing to monitor priests of concern.

The CCTF was charged with identifying criminal acts, gathering evidence related to those acts and presenting any criminal charges to a prosecutor with jurisdiction. The investigation revealed many allegations of abuse that lacked sufficient evidence to present the case to a prosecutor for charges.

However, the KBI said that 30 affidavits were submitted by the CCTF to prosecutors with probable cause to charge offending Catholic clergy members. No prosecutor has been filed for any of the 30 cases yet. In nearly all cases involving offending priests, the statute of limitations had expired, or the priest was deceased. Both situations prevented prosecution of the offending priests.

The CCTF also received allegations against religious leaders from religions and faiths other than the Catholic Church. These allegations were also reviewed by the task force.

The KBI said that the CCTF heard from many victims who attributed their alcohol or drug abuse or “wrecked lives” to the sexual abuse they experienced. Some of those victims interviewed alleged that their being in prison was due to sexual abuse suffered when they were children. Some family members of victims believed there was a direct correlation between the sexual abuse that was endured and a loved one’s suicide, according to the KBI.

Our agents witnessed men, now in their 60’s and 70’s, break down in tears as they
reported their sexual abuse to our team. In many cases they have never previously
disclosed the sexual abuse to anyone. Many times the victims thought they were the
only victim of the offending priest. Following appropriate investigative interviews and
actions, some victims learned for the first time they were not the only one the priest had
abused.

Summary Report to Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt from the KBI CCTF on Catholic Clergy Abuse of Children excerpt

The full report can be found below:

20230106 Kbi Clergy Report by Matthew Self on Scribd