The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Release
New abuse suit filed against predator priest
Little Rock bishop & diocese named as defendants
Top church staff “knew or should have known” about misdeeds
For 1.5 year, cleric sexually exploited newly-divorced adult parishioner
Early in 2008, the alleged victim, now in her 40s, met Kanu at St. Peter the Fisherman parish in Mountain Home. Kanu repeatedly met with her (mostly at his rectory), counseled her, heard her confession, converted her to Catholicism and baptized her that October. (During these sessions, the suit says, Kanu learned “sensitive” information about her which he later used to “manipulate and exploit her into complying with his sexual demands.”)
Based in part on Kanu’s advice, the victim divorced her husband and in spring 2009, Kanu started sexually exploiting her. He continued counseling and abusing her, even after he was transferred to a parish in Helena, Arkansas (for undisclosed reasons). Once he victimized her in Searcy at a Nigerian priest-friend’s rectory and another time in Brinkley, where another Nigerian priest, Father Athanasius Okeiyi, was pastor. “Both of the priests,” according to the lawsuit, “were aware that Kanu was engaging in sexual contact” with the victim.
In 2009 and 2010, the victim’s husband and a Helena parish housekeeper told several church officials of their concerns that Kanu was spending excessive time with the woman. (Fr. Jim Fanrak was one of those notified.)
The abuse lasted for 18 months, stopping in October 2010. Around that time, Bishop Taylor told a Nigerian priest to “look into” the allegations, knowing that he and Kanu were friends. The suit also says that Kanu “sexually exploited other women before, during, and after the time he sexually abused” this victim.
In January 2011, Little Rock Catholic officials released a statement calling Kanu’s actions “non-criminal professional misconduct” but that omitted the word “sexual” and in no way indicated that he’s accused of sexually exploited or victimized a woman. SNAP says that statement was “vague and disingenuous, particularly since Arkansas law suggests that what Kanu did was criminal.”
Bishop Taylor is a named defendant, both individually and in his official capacity as head of the diocese.
Kanu was ordained in 1992 and also worked at parishes in Helena, Marianna, Tontitown and Huntsville. Msgr. Bernard Malone now heads Kanu’s most recent former parish: Immaculate Heart of Mary in North Little Rock.
The alleged victim is now in her 40s and lives in Arkansas. Kanu is believed to have fled to his native Nigeria.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests