Predator priest worked in MT
New records about him just released
Catholic officials should do outreach, group says
SNAP to bishops: “Don’t let his victims suffer in shame, isolation and self-blame”
A now deceased Catholic priest, who was credibly accused of sexually abusing kids, worked in Montana according to long-secret church files about him that have just been made public.
And a support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging Montana’s two Catholic bishops to “use their vast resources to reach out to anyone else he may have hurt.”
Fr. Robert S. Koerner was assigned to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Billings from 1956 to 1963, according to documents posted on Bishop-Accountability.org and the website of Los Angeles attorney Ray Boucher. The records were released on July 31, 2013 as part of a 2007 settlement of some 660 clergy sex abuse victims in southern California.
According to a letter from then-San Diego Bishop Robert Brom in 2003, Fr. Koerner "sexually abused children throughout the years of his pastorate at St. Patrick Parish [in Calipatria, CA], from 1963 to 1990."
Catholic officials have a duty, a victims group says, to "aggressively seek out and help anyone who may have been hurt by him.”
The files show that Fr. Koerner “resigned from the pastorate, and left the parish at the end of December, 1989, or early January, 1990.” From Calipatria, CA, he moved to Lafayette, CA and later to San Antonio TX, where he passed away in 1999.
“Over the years, hundreds of dangerous proven, admitted and credibly accused Catholic priests, brothers, nuns, seminarians and bishops have been secretly sent to churches elsewhere, particularly in remote areas,” said Barb Dorris of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “When the transfers of predator priests are made known, local church officials have a moral duty to seek out and try to help other victims.”
While Fr. Koerner can’t be prosecuted, “others who may have helped conceal his crimes are likely still in positions of authority, inside and outside the church,” Dorris says. “Bishops in Montana and elsewhere could possibly help police and prosecutors build criminal cases against these corrupt church officials, by doing aggressive outreach and spreading the word about child molesters like Fr. Koerner among their flocks.”
“We urge current and former Montana Catholic officials to come clean about proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics like Fr. Koerner who lived or worked in the state, regardless of where they are, where they molested and which Catholic entity signed their paychecks,” said SNAP’s David Clohessy. “Secrecy around sex offenders protects sex offenders. Openness about child molesters protects children.”