A Kansas City Catholic priest who is being sued for raping a teenaged girl reportedly now runs a shelter for abused women and their families in his Nevada home. “For the sake of public safety,” clergy sex abuse victims are urging two bishops to stop him and warn others about him.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are urging the bishops of Kansas City and Reno to “take simple, common sense prevention steps” to keep Fr. Thomas J. Cronin away from “innocent children and vulnerable adults.”
Fr. Cronin, a Kansas City native who was sent to Nevada about 15 years ago, is accused in an Oct. 2010 lawsuit of repeatedly raping a 17 year old girl in 1979 in western Missouri. That suit is still pending.
SNAP is contacting Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn and Reno Bishop Randolph Calvo, begging them to force Fr. Cronin to sever all ties to the shelter. And SNAP wants both bishops to use parish bulletins, church websites, and pulpit announcements to warn the public and parishioners about him.
“This is a violation of common sense, common decency, the church's abuse policy and both bishops' promises,” said Barbara Dorris of SNAP. “Catholic officials have repeatedly pledged - verbally and in writing - to protect youngsters. But here two bishop are letting a credibly accused sex offender priest put himself around the same kinds of girls and young women he is accused of raping.”
Fr. Cronin lives at 143 Desert Lakes Rd. (on the edge of a golf course) in Fernley and lists the same address as the site of “Rachel’s Sanctuary,” which he evidently founded.
Until the 2010 suit, Fr. Cronin had never been publicly accused of child sex crimes before.
According to the 34 page suit, through confession, Fr. Cronin learned that the girl had been abused by a relative. Later, he manipulated and molested her as many as ten times. “Multiple priests and lay persons (knew) that (another priest) and Cronin were sexually abusing children, providing liquor to children and spending inordinate amounts of time with children,” the suit maintains.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and was filed in Jackson County Missouri Circuit Court. Three weeks after it was filed, Calvo still had not suspended Cronin, until SNAP drew public attention to the litigation and Cronin’s presence in Nevada.
Cronin worked in at least four Missouri towns (Blue Springs, Hamilton, Gallatin, Higginsville, and Kansas City) and several chaplaincies (at Children’s Mercy, Truman Medical Center, Western Missouri Mental Health Center, Charlotte Extended Care Center, University of Missouri-Kansas City Dentistry School, and the University School of Medicine).
Cronin was ordained in 1969 and was sent to Nevada in the late 1990s. He was a realtor from 2004-09 and has claimed he is a "chaplain" for the Lyon County Sheriff's Department. A photo of Cronin is available at BishopAccountability.org/. His phone number is listed as 775 575-9500 and his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rachel's Sanctuary’s is a tax-deductible 501(c)3 non-profit. Its board includes several Fernley residents.
Cronin has worked in Reno (St. Therese Church of the Little Flower, 1997-99), Fernley (St. Robert Bellarmine, 1999-04), Empire (St. Joseph the Worker, 1999-04), and Virginia City (St. Mary of the Mountains, 2009-10). From 1997-99, he was also a chaplain at Washoe Medical Center, now Renown Regional Medical Center, in Reno.
SNAP is also urging anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered Cronin’s crimes to speak up, expose wrongdoing, protect others and start healing.
“It’s clear that both bishops are doing little or nothing to monitor or supervise Fr. Cronin or alert the parishioners or the public about the serious allegations against him,” said Dorris of SNAP. “So it falls to the rest of us – especially those with information or suspicions about Fr. Cronin’s crimes – to spread the word and protect others.”
Holding signs and childhood photos, SNAP members are holding a sidewalk news conference today in Reno outside the diocesan headquarters.
The victim is represented by Kansas City attorney Rebecca Randles (816 931 9901, 816 510 2704 cell), who has handled dozens of clergy sex abuse and cover up suits. The victim in this suit, who now lives outside Missouri, repressed memory of the crimes until 2009, the suit says.
A copy of the letter SNAP is sending today to both bishops is below:
Dear Bishop Finn and Bishop Calvo:
We are members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Our mission is to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.
We are writing to you today because we have recently learned that an accused priest, Fr. Thomas J. Cronin, is running a women’s shelter in Reno. Given Fr. Cronin’s history, we are very concerned.
"Why take the chance?" That's the question we in SNAP ask ourselves time and time and time again, each time a church official takes a reckless, callous step that might endanger kids.
Fr. Cronin has been sued for allegedly raping a teenage girl while another priest, Fr. John Tulipana, watched.
That lawsuit was filed almost two years ago, and since then, nothing has surfaced that in any way undermines the victim's credibility. Today, the case is still pending.
Fr. Cronin has had ample opportunity to claim he's innocent or show proof of his alleged innocence. He hasn't done so. He has instead left the Diocese of Kansas City where he was accused and has moved to Nevada.
Common sense alone would tell any responsible adult that it's dangerous and wrong to let an accused sex offender who reportedly raped a girl to run a women's shelter for abused women and their families.
And of course church policy after church policy (and bishop after bishop) promise to put the safety of innocent kids and vulnerable adults first.
Yet both of you let Fr. Cronin be around vulnerable adults and children.
Bishop Finn, you have done virtually nothing to warn others about Fr. Cronin.
Bishop Calvo, you took a belated and bare minimum step in this direction, but only after our group pressured you to do so.
We call on you and both to forbid Fr. Cronin from having anything to do with this shelter or any other shelter.
We call on you to use your vase resources to help reach out to anyone else who may have seen, suspected or suffered his crimes.
You have the opportunity to protect other women and children from potentially being victimized by this priest. We beg you; please leap at this chance to protect your flock instead of protecting a man who has tarnished his white collar.
We look forward to your response.
Barbara Dorris, SNAP Outreach Director
(314) 503-0003, SNAPdorris@gmail.com
David Clohessy, SNAP Director
(314) 566-9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com
If only catholic church hierarchy would embrace the teachings of Christ, they wouldn’t look like dysfunctional sexual clowns all the time.