- Unusual new sex/cover up case filed by her husband & kids
- Accused cleric now works in a parish & in diocesan headquarters
- Lawsuit says top church officials kept silent & committed “fraud”
- It’s “always wrong & hurtful when priest has sex with parishioner,” SNAP says
Holding signs and childhood photos a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will announce a new civil sexual exploitation and cover up lawsuit against the Kansas City Catholic diocese and a priest who
--according to a 2010 paternity test, impregnated a married adult Catholic woman,
--“tore a family apart,” and
--now works in the diocese headquarters dealing with parishioners who have experienced marital difficulties.
It also accuses top church officials of committing fraud and keeping silent about the sexual misconduct.
TODAY, Monday, Sept. 28 at 1:00 PM
Outside the Kansas City Catholic chancery office (diocese headquarters), at 20 West Ninth Street in downtown Kansas City, MO
Three-four adults who were abused as children by priests and are with a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org) including a St. Louis woman who is the organization’s long time outreach director
Last year, a Kansas City area husband learned, through paternity testing, that the child he thought he had with his wife is actually the offspring of a Catholic priest. The husband and his three children are suing the priest and local Catholic officials.
The suit says that in 2004 and 2005, at south KC parish, Fr. Joseph H. Matt “preyed upon (woman’s) vulnerability” and “had unlawful sexual intercourse” with her after she lost her job” while Fr. Matt claimed “that he was providing spiritual counseling, comfort, mentoring and advice.”
By keeping silent about Matt’s sexual exploitation, he and the Diocese committed “fraud” on the family, the suit contends. It also says that church officials “offered no pastoral support” to the family and let Matt “remain in service,” while they “knew or should have known, that their actions would silence” the dad “and other victims, prevent them from discovering their injuries, and ultimately exacerbate their emotional distress and trauma.”
Matt now works at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Independence, Mo and on the diocese’s Marriage Tribunal, which helps determine whether Catholics seeking divorce can have their marriages annulled “in the eyes of the church.”
SNAP contends that an educated, allegedly holy and celibate man who holds the revered title of priest cannot ever have truly consensual or healthy sexual contact with a parishioner. It is always morally wrong and psychologically harmful, the group maintains, especially since Catholics have been raised since birth to believe that priests can forgive sins and are God's representatives on earth.
It’s like a doctor-patient or therapist-client relationship, SNAP says, where any sexual contact is expressly forbidden because it almost always results in devastation for the more vulnerable individual. And it's always the duty of powerful official – doctor, therapist or priest - to maintain boundaries and refrain from any sexual contact with the radically less powerful person – patient, client or parishioner, SNAP says.
A copy of the lawsuit will be available at the news conference.
Attorney Rebecca Randles represents the man and his children who are filing today’s suit. The diocese is represented by Chad Blomberg.