One of the responsibilities as Archbishop that I do not cherish having to deal with involves allegations of misconduct made against clergy, employees or volunteers of the archdiocese. Fortunately for this archdiocese, such allegations are very rare.
However, in the past week I have had to remove a long-standing priest from active ministry while the archdiocese conducts an investigation into a recently received allegation of sexual misconduct. This form of administrative leave is standard practice when allegations of misconduct are made against a priest or deacon.
The Safe Environment Coordinator for the archdiocese recently received a report from a 45-year-old Kansas City, Kan., man who alleges that 30 years ago (1982) when he was 15 years old, he was inappropriately touched by a priest of the archdiocese, Father John Wisner. The man claims that the alleged misconduct took place while on a youth outing.
I have spoken with Father Wisner concerning the allegation and he acknowledges the time, location and circumstances surrounding the allegation; however, he denies that he engaged in any sexual misconduct. Father Wisner has been cooperating with the investigation. I have appointed a special auditor with law enforcement and investigative experience to investigate the allegation and, in accord with archdiocesan polices, local law enforcement has been contacted and the chairman of the Independent Review Board has been notified.
Father Wisner has served as a parochial vicar (associate pastor) at St. Agnes Parish in Roeland Park, Kan., since 1985. Father Wisner was ordained in 1972 and has served at Sacred Heart and Christ the King parishes in Kansas City, Kan., and at St. Joseph Parish in Shawnee. Father Wisner is also a medical doctor and employed full time as an associate professor. The archdiocese has no record of any other allegations of sexual misconduct raised against Father Wisner in his 40 years of ministry.
Archdiocesan policies place the protection of children as the first priority. Furthermore, the archdiocese respects the sincere concerns of individuals who bring forth allegations of misconduct, and is thus committed to conducting a thorough investigation. However, it is important to remember that all accused persons should be presumed innocent unless evidence proves otherwise. I would ask that parishioners not jump to conclusions about Father Wisner or any other cleric, employee or volunteer accused of misconduct until investigation findings are revealed.
The goal of such investigations is to discover the truth about what may or may not have happened, so I ask you to pray for the gift of wisdom for those conducting the investigation. Lastly, pray also for the person who brought forth the allegation and for Father Wisner while they endure the scrutiny that comes with such an investigation.
The archdiocese encourages any person who believes they have been sexually abused by any cleric, employee or volunteer of any archdiocesan parish, school or agency, regardless of when such abuse may have occurred, to contact the archdiocesan Safe Environment Coordinator at (913) 647-6324, the Confidential Report Line at (913) 647-3051, or to contact local law enforcement.
Specifically, if anyone has information pertinent to this current investigation, they are encouraged to contact the archdiocesan Safe Environment Coordinator at the above number.