Diocese of Helena Priest Accused of Abusing a Minor
(****UPDATE*****ON MAY 8, 2023 Bishop Vetter issued a letter to parishioners informing them that Fr. Christofferson is cleared to return to public ministry and the review board did not find sufficient evidence) (For Immediate Release November 1, 2022)
Father Kevin Christofferson was placed on administrative leave last week by the Diocese of Helena after being accused of abusing of a minor in 2001. Fr. Christofferson worked at Immaculate Conception in Polson, MT.
It is astonishing to us that Church officials routinely announce that a cleric’s placement on leave is not an admission of guilt. However, it would be more helpful if Bishop Austin Vetter would inform parishioners from Christofferson’s prior workplaces about the current allegations. This affirmative action would alert parishioners and the public. Statistics and experience routinely demonstrate that those who harm children seldom have just one victim.
We applaud the alleged victim who stepped forward with strength and courage and hope that they are getting the support they need. Now that this survivor has come forward, we call on church officials from Helena to use every resource at their disposal, including parish bulletins and websites, to share the allegation and encourage others who may have had information to come forward and make a report to local law enforcement. Such reports help other survivors know they are not alone and can empower other victims, many of whom are still sitting in silence, to come forward.
The Diocese of Helena declared bankruptcy in 2014 and resolved claims with 362 victims. We would like to know how many victims have come forward since 2014. The diocese has 44,000 parishioners and according to the research by Bishop Accountability, 62 names of the clergy are listed as accused. We feel it is only right for the diocese to update its list now and hope parishioners and parents throughout Helena will join our call for transparency and accountability.
(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)