October 15, 2003
Very Reverend John J. Nevins, D.D
Catholic Diocese of Venice (Florida)
P.O. Box 2006
Venice, FL 34284
Dear Bishop Nevins,
We are very concerned that a twice accused clergy sexual offender, Rev. Francis Kane, is residing in North Fort Myers, Florida. Parents, children, neighbors and other members of the community are unaware of Kane's history of sexual abuse of children. Protecting children from Kane is no longer "someone else's problem," Bishop Nevins, now it's up to you.
Kane was first accused of sexually abusing a boy while pastor of St. Bartholomew's Church in Cape Elizabeth, Maine in 1982. After a church investigation, Kane was removed from the parish. At the time, the church did not report the allegations to the police. In 1995, Kane settled a civil suit by a second man who also said Kane sexually abused him when he was a boy. The allegation was too old at the time to lead to criminal charges. Prior to serving in Cape Elizabeth, Kane was assigned to St. Mary's Church in Biddeford, Maine.
The recorded greeting on Kane's answering machine says, "Hi, this is Father Frank." Innocent children are not prepared to protect themselves from charming, friendly and persuasive sexual molesters - especially ones disguised as Catholic priests.
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that you signed in November 2002 states in part, "If the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state has not been applied, the offender ought to lead a life of prayer and penance. He will not be permitted to celebrate Mass publicly or to administer the sacraments. He is to be instructed not to wear clerical garb or to present himself publicly as a priest."
A mere change in job title, assignment, or even retirement does not "cure" someone with a deeply rooted sexual compulsion to touch or rape children. In fact, well-documented psychological studies indicate that the recidivism rate among child molesters and sexual predators is extremely high.
Bishop Nevins, the least any bishop can do, once he determines a cleric has molested, is to warn others. This is the single most effective step a bishop can take toward safeguarding children. How are parents in North Fort Myers and elsewhere going to protect their children from sexual abuse if no one tells them that the person who lives next door or down the street could hurt their child?
Many a parent kneels down by the bedside each night and asks God "to help Ann conquer her eating disorder" or "to help Billy overcome his drug habit." Perplexed, they do not know that their child's self-destructive behavior is directly linked to sexual molestation by a priest, deacon, brother, bishop, or nun. Sadly, one of Kane's victims committed suicide at 27 years old.
Bishop Nevins, you must take swift and forceful action. The people of Florida must be warned that a sexual molester is living anonymously in their midst. Please use every communications vehicle at your disposal (diocesan newspaper and web site, church bulletins, etc.) to warn others about Kane. Please also take immediate steps to make sure Kane does not present himself as a priest, help out with confessions, offer himself as a volunteer in any of your diocesan schools or say Mass for a vacationing Venice Diocese priest.
We look forward to hearing from you right away.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
St. Louis, MO 63143
314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915