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Youngster Was Molested by Now Convicted Priest
Others Who Kuchar Wounded Are Still Out There, SNAP Believes
Group Urges Victims To Contact Law Enforcement, Not Church
Leaders of a local self-help group for clergy sex abuse victims announced today that a second young man has settled his civil child sexual abuse lawsuit against the St. Louis Catholic Archdiocese and the controversial Father Bryan Kuchar.
Last year, Kuchar was found guilty of sodomizing a boy in 1995. He continued to generate controversy even while behind bars after mounting a campaign to remain a priest. Part of that effort involved writing to former parishioners urging them to disclose any potentially harmful or embarrassing information about one of his victims or his family.
The amount of the agreement is apparently not being disclosed. It is believed to be substantial.
The young victim, through SNAP, released this statement: "I am glad to have gone through with this process, and I hope that other victims may seek the peace that I have received from this. I wish more headway could have been reached during negotiations regarding accused priests wearing a Roman collar during trial proceedings, but no arrangement could be reached regarding this matter."
"No amount of money can ever repair the damage inflicted by Father Kuchar on this brave young man," said St. Louis SNAP leader Barbara Dorris. "We applaud him for speaking up, seeking justice and working to prevent future abuse by warning others about an abusive cleric and a complicit church hierarchy."
SNAP leaders are urging others who have been molested by Kuchar or other area clerics to contact them or law enforcement officials or therapists.
The latest Kuchar victim, now in his early 20s, was repeatedly sodomized by Kuchar around 1999 and 2000 when he was about 16 years old, once during an overnight visit at the Cathedral rectory on Lindell. He filed his civil suit in St. Louis county circuit court in April 2004.
"Our group is not part of the settlement process. That's between the victims who have taken legal action and their attorneys," said Dorris. "But we certainly believe this situation shows that when victims come forward and turn to the time-tested American justice system, sometimes some closure and healing can result."
The young man was represented by Patrick Noaker of St. Paul and Susan Carlson of University City, attorneys who are handling the vast majority of clergy sex abuse lawsuits involving St. Louis area priests.
Kuchar faced two criminal trials. The first (in May 2003) ended in a hung jury, after Kuchar claimed his taped confession to police was coerced. The second (in August 2003) ended in a unanimous guilty verdict. Kuchar was sentenced to three years in the St. Louis County Jail. He was originally arrested on April 10, 2002. A judge sentenced the priest to three years in St. Louis County jail.
"Because of this lenient sentence, Kuchar will soon be free," said David Clohessy of SNAP. "So it's crucial that anyone who experienced, witnessed or suspected abuse by Kuchar come forward and call the police."
Kuchar is still a young man, he noted, and expresses no remorse for his crimes, so must still be considered a threat.
Another civil lawsuit against Kuchar was settled in August of this year. It involved the young man whose police report and trial testimony resulted in Kuchar's conviction. He was assaulted while attending Assumption parish in South County.
"We are convinced others current and former Catholic employees are still staying silent, enabling Kuchar to avoid prosecution on other crimes," Clohessy said. "And because he molested kids so recently, and it's harder for young people to understand they've been hurt and to call the police, we believe others Kuchar wounded are still struggling in shame, self-blame and isolation."
Kuchar's case has been particularly troubling to some Catholics and to SNAP for other reasons:
- Despite repeated requests, no archdiocesan official tried to stop or criticize Kuchar's efforts to discover and use negative information about his victims in his campaign to remain a priest.
- Two full weeks after Kuchar's conviction, Msgr. Richard Stika (the Archbishop Justin Rigali's "right hand man") continued to express doubts about Kuchar's guilt, to the chagrin of clergy sex abuse victims and many Catholics. On KMOV TV, Mike O'Connell reported on 9/11/03 that despite"Kuchar's taped confession to police and two separate admissions Kuchar made to a nun and a fellow priest, Stika still thinks Kuchar could be innocent, citing the priests claim at trial that he'd been coerced into confessing by police."
- Throughout the trial, and even after being found guilty, Kuchar wore his Roman collar in the courtroom, in violation of the US bishops sex abuse policy, SNAP believes.
- After first denying any financial involvement in Kuchar's criminal defense, archdiocesan officials later admitted (after repeated questioning) they paid "a portion" of his defense lawyer's fees.
- A nun, a priest and a Catholic employee who knew about or strongly suspected Kuchar's guilt remained silent for months as the first criminal trial approached. They testified in Kuchar's second trial, but only after Kuchar's first trial ended in a hung jury and after the three were directly contacted by the prosecutor's office. SNAP repeatedly urges anyone with knowledge or suspicions about abusive clergy to contact law enforcement.
- Despite claims by the archdiocese that they have long had a rigorous screening process for priesthood candidates, 40% of the men in Kuchar's ordination class (two of five) are now serving time in prison for child sexual abuse.
In addition to working at these two parishes (Assumption and the Cathedral), Kuchar was also at two high schools - Rosati-Kain High School in the Central Wet End and St. John the Baptist High School in the city's Bevo neighborhood. He was also the associate director of the archdiocese's Vocations Office and had an office at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.
Kuchar is 38 years old and was ordained in 1993.
Both of the known Kuchar victims still live in the St. Louis area.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests