Diocese of Kansas City, MO Finally Releases List of Abusive Priests
The Diocese of Kansas City, MO has finally released a list of 33 priests “credibly accused” of abuse. We are grateful for the pressure from police and the public that has prompted this long-overdue move.
It is reckless and callous for Bishop Johnston to have hidden these names for so long, releasing them when it's convenient for him, instead of immediately when the allegations are made or deemed ‘credible’ by church officials. And it is notable to us that the list is missing several names and key details about others.
First, the list omits the names of at least six clerics who we have identified that have spent time in the Diocese of Kansas City. Those men are Fr. Deusdedit Mulokozi, Fr. James V. McCormick, Fr. Richard C. Colbert, Fr. Donald Redmond, Fr. Thomas A. Conway and Fr. Edgar Probstfield. Second, the list also does not contain crucial information related to when the diocese was informed of allegations against these 33 men and what actions were taken by church officials in response to those allegations. Third, the list does not contain information on where these men are today.
Such information is necessary to not only understand what went wrong in the past and how to prevent it from happening again in the future, but also to ensure that children and vulnerable adults are protected right now.
There is no excuse for hiding an abuser’s name for any length of time. In fact, every day a known or suspected abuser's identity is concealed, more children and vulnerable adults are needlessly at risk. It is irresponsible to keep silent and wait to disclose this knowledge in groups or bunches when it suits an employer's public relations needs. The vast majority of the nearly 200 US bishops have posted these names, some of them 17 years ago. Bishop Johnston should have done it four years ago when he took over the diocese.
So while this may seem like a step forward, it is at best a partial disclosure, forced on the Bishop by pressure from parents, parishioners and the public. It is a way of feigning ‘openness,’ trying to diffuse legitimate anger, and turn attention back on to the perpetrator priests and away from complicit church officials who have minimized and hidden these cases.
We cannot help but wonder how many other proven, admitted and credibly accused abusers have been left off this list and are still living or working – in churches or elsewhere – among unsuspecting colleagues and neighbors.
We strongly suspect there are dozens.
We hope this long-delayed and likely incomplete list of ‘credibly accused’ clerics will prod those with information or suspicions about clergy sex crimes and cover ups to call police, prosecutors and independent sources of help. It is clear that Catholic officials still refuse to do all they can to safeguard the vulnerable, so that duty falls on the rest of us.
We also hope it will encourage victims who are suffering in silence, shame and self-blame to share their pain with loved ones and therapists so they can begin healing. You can heal from abuse. But you cannot do it alone.
Finally, we hope this list will help inform parents, co-workers, neighbors and relatives of these clerics to keep their kids away from them.
Many abusive priests are charming, charismatic and loveable. So even after they have been suspended, some Catholics believe they are innocent and do not protect their kids. We hope this list will cut through the dangerous denial and convince church-goers that these clerics should never be around children.
Many will assume it is too late to prosecute or sue the clerics who committed or concealed these crimes. However, police and prosecutors are increasingly getting more aggressive and creative in going after even decades-old child sex crimes. Currently, many are being less deferential to church officials or fearful of their perceived power. Many attorneys are using innovative approaches to winning civil justice for victims, and more and more courts are re-interpreting laws and giving victims their ‘day in court.’
So the bottom line – you owe it to kids to call law enforcement if you know or suspect any kind of misconduct by these clerics. You also owe it to yourself and your family to check out your civil legal options if you were hurt by any of them.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)