Do you know these Boone County priests?
He was expelled from the diocese but still works in a parish.
He is the first “sexually violent predator” priest in the US.
He abused in NJ, changed his name, and abused here too.
He & his twin, both abusers, worked at five mid-MO churches.
He pled guilty (again) in 2019 & admits he molested 30 children.
He was put on leave just two years ago and is being defrocked.
WHO ARE THESE MEN?
They are some of the roughly 40 credibly accused abusive priests who are/were in this diocese. (see BishopAccountability.org). Specifics are provided at the end of this email.
ARE THEY REALLY “CREDIBLY ACCUSED?”
That’s what bishops have decided (often with input from lay panels). That’s why most of them can be found on diocesan websites under the heading “credibly accused” of abuse. And that’s why almost none of them are still on the job, with one exception: Fr. Deusdedit “Deo” Mulokozi.
SO WHY BRING THEM UP NOW?
Because kids are vulnerable to being abused by some of them today. Most of them live unsupervised among unsuspecting families. Because most aren’t working so they have plenty of time to get to know parents and groom and perhaps assault their kids.
Because you, as Catholics, deserve to know the truth about bad priests. Every bishop has pledged to be “open” and “transparent” about abuse.
And because we believe if you love your church, you’ll help us protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.
ARE THESE OLD GUYS REALLY STILL DANGEROUS?
Who knows? Why take a chance? Why not warn parents about them and let informed adults decide if they want to take a risk with the safety of their children. Old age doesn’t necessarily cure pedophilia.
BUT OUR BISHOP POSTED THESE MEN ON HIS WEBSITE!
Bishop McKnight has given some names. But he refuses to disclose ALL the problematic clerics. And he won’t provide their photos, work histories and other details many bishops give. Those simple steps help parents protect their kids. And they help still-suffering victims heal.
WHO’S MISSING FROM THE BISHOP’S ‘CREDIBLY ACCUSED’ LIST?
Here are just seven who we feel should be on McKnight’ list.
*Fr. Kenneth J. Roberts, author of “From Playboy to Priest,” who’s on the “credibly accused” lists in Dallas and St. Louis. He was sued for abuse in TX and IL. (He lived in Osage Beach and gave talks across the US.)
*Fr. Vincent J. Duggan, who was just deemed “credibly accused” by the St. Louis archdiocese. (He was in Wellsville in Montgomery County.)
*Fr. Richard Colbert, who worked in six Missouri towns. He worked at Fr. Flanagan’s Boys and Girls Town in Nebraska. He+ abruptly and quietly left there during an investigation of a child sex allegation against him. He was sued for abuse in 2005 and that suit charged he molested other kids too. The Jeff City diocese put him on leave from his parishes in Cole Camp and Warsaw.
*Fr. James Gummersbach, who is on the St. Louis archdiocesan ‘credibly accused’ and was sued and defrocked. (He worked in Rolla)
*Fr. John Baskett, who is on the Kansas City diocesan ‘credibly accused’ list. (He twice worked in Boonville.)
*Fr. Fred Lenczycki, who is behind bars, having pled guilty in 2019 to child sex crimes in St. Louis. (He was in Columbia and St. James.)
*Fr. Charles M. DeGuire, who has been sued for reportedly molesting a St. Louis boy. (He was in Osage County for seven years.)
WHERE ARE THESE MEN NOW?
Some are in central Missouri right now. Others live elsewhere. One is still an active priest back in his native Tanzania. Some are of course deceased.
But remember that Catholic officials have pledged to be “open” about abuse, not just with living offenders. And remember: “The truth shall set you free” (not 80 or 90% of the truth.) Being honest about predators helps victims feel vindicated, seek help and get healing. And it encourages other institutions to ‘come clean’ too.
SO HOW CAN I HELP?
---Forward this email to at least ten people. Reach out to any potential ‘lost sheep.’ (They need not be Catholics. Predators abuse kids from all denominations.) Remember: the truth sets us free.
---Ask your loved ones “Did a priest, nun, brother, monk, bishop or seminarian ever hurt you as a child?” It’s a tough conversation to start, but by just raising the subject, you might nudge someone to break their silence and begin healing.
---If they say yes, tell them you’re very sorry and you’ll support them in any way you can. Urge them to seek help from independent sources like therapists, police, prosecutors and support groups like ours: SNAPnetwork.org
---Urge ALL church officials to be more forthcoming about who abused and where they are now. Talk to your priest or principal about this.
---If you have any information or suspicions about clergy sexual misconduct, call law enforcement. (It’s YOUR job to share what you know or have heard about possible child sex crimes. It’s THEIR job to determine whether it’s too late to take action.)
---If you can’t bring yourself to do that, contact us or send the information to BishopAccountability.org (especially if you have documentation on where these men are or were).
---If you know of or suspect any abusive nuns, seminarians, brothers, monks, ex-clerics or other church employees, contact law enforcement or us. (We absolutely pledge to protect your confidentiality. You can mail info anonymously to David Clohessy, 7234 Arsenal St., St. Louis MO 63143)
---At a bare minimum, take 30 minutes to learn about these abusers at BishopAccountability.org. Then ask yourself “Do I know anything at all about these men, or any possible molesters, that I should no longer keep hidden? The clergy sex abuse and cover up scandal is the worst chapter in the church’s history. Is it OK if I do NOTHIING at all about it?”
---Finally, avoid the temptation to assume that the abuse crisis is over. Even now, decades after the first pedophile priest attracted national headlines in 1985, one or more clerics is accused, suspended, sued, charged, convicted or sentenced in the US virtually every day. ( See https://www.bishop-accountability.org/AbuseTracker/ )
Vigilance and knowledge protects children. Complacency and secrecy endanger children.
ISN’T THIS ALL PRETTY MUCH OLD INFORMATION?
No. Some of the accused priests’ names are new (at least to Catholics in Missouri). Some of their assignments are just being discovered. One was accused two years ago. And whether a perpetrator is alive or dead, his victims are very likely still suffering.
WHY IS KNOWING THEIR WORK ASSIGNMENTS HELPFUL?
Because sometimes victims and their families have forgotten the priest’s name or only recall a first name or a nickname.
Imagine an elderly Columbia mom who is estranged from her daughter. The mom reads that Fr. Bob, a priest she’s long since forgotten, has now been found to be a proven, admitted or credibly accused child molester. Then she believes this may be the one who often took her young daughter to the movies years ago.
So, mom calls her daughter, who has long since left Missouri and led a life of struggle (suicidal thoughts, addictions, depressing, eating disorders). Mom says “Fr. Bob is in the newspaper. The bishop says he’s an abuser. Isn’t this the same Fr. Bob who spent time with you? Did he ever hurt you?”
Conservations like this can lead to sorely-needed, long-overdue healing.
McKnight claims that “parishes are in very small communities, in respect of the requests of some victims and their families, we are not listing assignments.” That’s baloney. Telling parents and public where a molester worked doesn’t reveal where or who he molested. This is especially true since many child molesters have worked in many places.
In 33 years of involvement in this issue, I’ve not seen another bishop use this excuse for keeping secrets. And I’ve not talked with a single abuse victim who has told me they want their perpetrator’s work history and church assignments to be kept hidden.
WHO ARE THE ACCUSED BOONE COUNTY PRIESTS?
Fr. Geoffrey Brooke (Columbia, Sedalia, Washington DC)
Fr. John F. Fischer (Columbia, Hannibal, Jefferson City, Rolla, Macon)
Fr. John Long (Columbia, Mexico, Moberly, Jeff City, Lake of the Ozarks, Greenville NC, Cork, Ireland)
Fr. Fred Lenczycki (Columbia, St. Louis, Florissant, Maryland Heights, Bridgeton, Half Moon Bay CA, Pacifica CA, Montara CA and six Illinois
towns: Belleville, Naperville, Romeoville, Hinsdale, Beaverville, Wheaton),
Fr. Mel Lahr (Columbia, Hannibal, Boonville, Canton, Salisbury, Bourbon, St. Martins)
Fr. John Whiteley (Columbia, Rolla, Moberly, Kirksville, Rhineland, Fulton, Novinger, Adair, Starkenburg)
Fr. Donald Wallace (Columbia, Salisbury, Fayette, Rolla, Marshall, Moberly, Rich Fountain, Fulton, Jefferson City, Dixon, St. Thomas),
Fr. Frank C. Westhoff (Centralia, Ewing, Palmyra, Kirksville, Louisiana, Clarksville and 9 towns in Illinois)
Fr. Charles H. Patterson (Centralia)
Fr. Jerry Howard (Boonville, Columbia, Midway, Fulton).
(Again, with the exception of Brooke, at least one bishop calls each of these priests "credibly accused" on a diocesan website. At least four of these men are still alive, maybe more.)
If you know of other places they spent time, please let us know. If you want to know more about these men, go to BishopAccountability.org
ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS AT THE START OF THIS LETTER
They are, in order, Fr. Deo Mulokozi, Fr. Fred Lenczycki, Fr. Jerry Howard (a.k.a. Carmine Sita), Frs. Stephen and Severin Lamping, Fr. Lenczycki (again), and Fr. Geoffrey Brooke. McKnight just quietly and recently added the Lamping brothers to his ‘accused’ list.)
Thank you for reading this. Jesus would want us to reach out to anyone suffering in shame, silence and self-blame. Please do that by forwarding this email far and wide, especially to Catholics who may have left the church.
David Clohessy 314-566-9790, [email protected]
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests