Q. What information are you releasing? Whose names are on this list?
A. This list contains the names of the clergy members against whom a substantiated claim of sexual abuse of a minor (a young person under the age of 18) has been received by the Archdiocese. The accused might have been a priest of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, a priest of another diocese assigned to work in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, or a member of a religious order assigned to ministry in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
Q. How do you define “child sexual abuse”?
A. Sexual abuse of a child, minor or youth means any sexual act to or with a child or other sexual exploitation of a child or other behavior by which an adult uses a minor as an object of sexual gratification. For purpose of archdiocesan policies, the term “sexual abuse” is not necessarily limited to the definitions of sexual abuse under civil or criminal law. The use, creation or possession of child pornographic images constitutes child sexual abuse.
Q. What are the criteria for inclusion on the list?
A. Clergy members’ names are included on this list if there was a substantiated allegation of child sexual abuse against them. Their inclusion does not necessarily mean they were found guilty of a crime or are liable for civil claims. Many of the allegations received by the archdiocese are from decades ago and were reported many years after the alleged abuse, sometimes after the death of the accused.
Q. What do you mean by a substantiated allegation?
A. When a complaint is received, the archdiocese starts with the presumption that the allegation is being brought forward in good faith. Therefore, all allegations are considered credible; the report investigator’s task is to investigate it thoroughly. An allegation is considered “substantiated” when it is corroborated with witness statements, documents, emails, photos, texts, or by another source, such as law enforcement. Obviously, if the accused member of the clergy admits to allegations the accusation is substantiated. However, an allegation can be considered substantiated, even if the accused denied the allegation, when there is corroborating evidence that supports the veracity of the allegation.
No matter how long ago the alleged abuse occurred, every effort is made to determine if the allegation can be substantiated.
Q. How many clergy files were reviewed and what time period did they cover?
A. The review included a total of some 1080 individual clergy files going back more than 75 years.
Q. How many clergy with substantiated allegations were diocesan priests of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas?
Q. What percentage of all clergy whose files were reviewed had a substantiated allegation?
Q. What happens to an allegation of child abuse by a member of the clergy once it is received?
A. When an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a member of the clergy is received, the archdiocese initiates an investigation and notifies law enforcement according to state law and the archdiocese’s Child Protection policy.
The allegation is also communicated to the archdiocese’s own Independent Review Board (IRB) in accord with its Safe Environment policy. The archdiocese employs a report investigator who, with her extensive law enforcement and investigative background as a former FBI agent and Kansas state trooper, performs internal investigations of allegations of sexual abuse. The investigator’s reports are presented to the IRB to inform their deliberations and provide the known facts on which to base their recommendations.
The IRB’s members include a victim of clergy sexual abuse, an attorney who has long advocated for abuse victims, mental health professionals, law enforcement officials and one priest. The IRB offers both the person making the accusation and the accused the opportunity to meet separately with the board.
The IRB is not an investigative body, but it is presented with the results of the investigation conducted by the archdiocesan report investigator. Following its review of the case, the IRB refers on to the archbishop the case file and the board’s recommendations. At that time, it makes recommendations with respect to all aspects of the case, including, when applicable, its recommendations concerning the accused cleric’s suitability for ministry.
If the allegation is not able to be substantiated and consistent with the recommendation of the IRB, the cleric may be returned to active ministry.
Q. Is this list complete?
A. This list is a complete and accurate representation of the substantiated allegations that have been made to the archdiocese against priests for whom we have files. The list is based on the extensive file review conducted by the independent law firm of Husch Blackwell. The archdiocese has received some historic allegations that could not be substantiated based on the information contained in the file. These are not allegations about anyone currently serving in priestly ministry. The report investigator will be asked to investigate the allegations and present her findings to the Independent Review Board. Once the IRB has made its recommendations, it is possible that names could be added to the current list.
If new information comes to the archdiocese, the list will be updated.
Q. Why was Husch Blackwell chosen to review the files?
A. Husch Blackwell was chosen because of its expertise in this field. The firm has conducted investigations and reviews covering a multitude of circumstances for a number of large religious organizations and public and private educational institutions throughout the United States.
Q. Why were some of these names not made public before now?
A. Many of these names have been made public previously. But some of these allegations were reported decades after the alleged abuse — in some cases, when the accused was deceased. In other instances, the victim requested that the matter not be publicized. The publication of this list, therefore, encompassing more than 75 years of records, is an effort to make all substantiated allegations of sexual abuse — even historical ones — public in the same way the archdiocese has made current ones.
Q. Why are you releasing this list now?
A. In light of the confusion and concern caused by the Pennsylvania grand jury report and the Archbishop McCarrick scandal this past summer, there has been a call for greater transparency on the part of the church regarding not just present allegations, but historical allegations as well. We are releasing this list as part of that effort toward greater transparency.
Q. Are any of the men on this list still in active ministry?
A. No cleric with a substantiated allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor is permitted to exercise any form of public ministry.
Q. What is the archdiocese doing to prevent sexual abuse within the church?
A. The archdiocesan safe environment program has three components. First, persons who work with or around children are required to participate in ongoing child safety training and to keep it current. Children, too, are required to undergo personal safety training. Second, all church employees, clergy, and volunteers are required to undergo criminal background checks. Third, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops engages an independent firm that conducts an annual safe environment audit of the archdiocese.
The archdiocese currently has 18 trained facilitators available to present the Virtus program’s adult awareness training sessions to archdiocesan employees, clergy, and volunteers and to date has instructed more than 47,930 adults here in the archdiocese. It has conducted more than 41,000 background checks for any adult serving in any capacity in the archdiocese and has passed every audit — both remote and on-site — since the audits were instituted in 2004.
Q. What training do seminarians, or new employees, clergy and volunteers of the archdiocese receive regarding the archdiocese’s Safe Environment program?
A. All adults — employees, volunteers and clergy — are required to undergo Virtus training. (See below.) Aspiring seminarians must complete their Virtus training upon acceptance to seminary studies. All children in Catholic schools or religious education programs also undergo personal safety training.
Q. What is Virtus training?
A. Virtus is the safe environment program created by the National Catholic Risk Retention Group in the United States and chosen by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas to provide ongoing training to all personnel on sexual abuse of minors, and how to prevent, detect and respond to sexual abuse. This training is required for all employees, clergy and volunteers, and there is special age-appropriate training provided to children. The Virtus safe environment program is in use in over 80 dioceses in the United States.
Q. Everywhere in the news, sexual abuse by perpetrators in all walks of life is being reported. But it seems that some critics have singled out the Catholic Church for criticism on this matter. Why is that?
A. One instance of sexual abuse by a member of Catholic clergy is too many. As a Church, we should hold ourselves and, in particular, our clergy to the highest standards. As a result of a series of articles in the Boston Globe on the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy, the Catholic Church has undergone intense scrutiny on this issue. This led in 2002 to the adoption by the Catholic Bishops of the United States of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” The charter mandated policies and protocols regarding the church’s response to allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy as well as standards for safe environment programs aimed at preventing future abuse. No other institution in our country has undergone such a comprehensive review and reform. We are grateful to victims and the secular media who called the Church to exercise greater accountability in this area. At the same time, federal and state laws as well as government investigations must apply equally to all individuals and institutions (e.g. other churches, organizations, professions, public schools).
Q. What steps have the archdiocese taken to ensure that those who apply for seminary are suitable for ministry?
A. The application process for admission to seminary studies for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas is extensive and includes lengthy interviews, multiple references, national criminal background and national sex offender registry checks and a psychological assessment that includes a psychosexual evaluation. Only men willing and able to live the chaste and celibate lives that are required of them move forward in the application process. While in seminary, men are closely supervised by a formation team and routinely evaluated by the archdiocese. Another thorough background check and fingerprinting by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation are done just prior to being ordained a transitional deacon.
Q. How does the archdiocese ensure that priests from other dioceses, ministering here either short or long-term, are not a threat?
A. Every cleric from another diocese seeking to exercise ministry in the archdiocese has to present from his bishop or provincial confirmation that he is a priest or deacon in good standing.
Q. Does the archdiocese work with law enforcement to investigate reports of abuse?
A. Allegations of sexual abuse against children are reported to the appropriate law enforcement and child protection agencies as required by applicable state laws and the archdiocese’s Child Protection policy. Moreover, the archdiocese cooperates fully with law enforcement in the process of ensuing investigations.
Q. What should I do if I know of a child that is being abused or if I’ve been abused by a representative of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas?
A. If you know of a child who is in immediate danger, call 911. If you have observed suspicious behavior and fear that a child might be being abused or neglected by a representative of the archdiocese, call the Kansas Department for Children and Families Protection Report Center at 800-922-5330. Additionally, make a report to the archdiocese itself. You can report online at: www.archkck.org/reportabuse, or by calling these numbers:
1.) The Confidential Report Line, (913) 647-3051
2.) Jan Saylor, report investigator, (913) 647-3051 or
3.) Linda Slater-Trimble, Victim Assistance Coordinator, (913) 298-9244.
If you are an adult and have been abused by a representative of the archdiocese in the past, the archdiocese still encourages your report, no matter when the abuse occurred.Those who are Hearing Impaired may report online or contact the Office of Deaf Ministry at (913) 324-5378 vp.