Kansas Catholic bishop under investigation by KBI for alleged sexual abuse of a minor

Kansas’ top law enforcement agency is investigating an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against Roman Catholic Bishop John B. Brungardt of Dodge City, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announced Monday.

“An investigation conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) is under way,” the archdiocese said in a statement published in The Leaven, its official newspaper. “Bishop Brungardt denies the allegation and is cooperating fully with the KBl.”

Brungardt, a former high school science teacher, has asked to step aside from his duties until the matter is resolved, the archdiocese said. That decision is supported by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

The Congregation for Bishops has appointed the Bishop of Salina, Gerald L. Vincke, as temporary apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Dodge City during the investigation.

Naumann has been asked by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or CDF, at the Vatican to conduct a canonical preliminary investigation into the matter, the archdiocese said. The CDF handles issues involving child sexual abuse.

“Archbishop Naumann will send the results of this preliminary investigation to the Congregation, along with his opinion about the initial findings, in the shortest time possible, taking into account that the State investigation is still ongoing,” the archdiocese said.

Brungardt, 62, was born in Salina and ordained to the priesthood in 1998. He served in the Diocese of Wichita for 12 years before going to the Diocese of Dodge City in late 2010.

Brungardt earned a bachelor’s degree in physics with a minor in mathematics in 1980 from Benedictine College; a master’s degree in physics in 1983 from Iowa State University; and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction in 1993 from Kansas State University, according to the Diocese of Dodge City.

He completed seminary at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, in 1998 with a master’s of divinity and a master of arts in moral theology.

In October 2019, the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City released a list of 12 clerics or seminarians with substantiated allegations of abuse against minors. The Wichita diocese has named 15 clerics, the Salina diocese has named 28 priests or religious clergy and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas has seen at least 22 clergy credibly accused of abusing minors since allegations of priest abuse rocked the Catholic Church in recent years. Nationally, thousands of victims have come forward, sparking investigations across the country.

Monday’s announcement comes as the KBI enters its third year of an investigation into reports of sexual abuse in the four Catholic dioceses in Kansas and the Society of St. Pius X, a breakaway Catholic group known for its traditional Latin Mass, with a large branch in St. Marys in northeast Kansas.

Since the investigation began in November 2018, at least 120 cases have been opened as of August, according to the KBI.

To report abuse involving church personnel, the archdiocese said to contact law enforcement as well as its Confidential Report Line at 913-647-3051. Reports can also be made online at https://archkck.org/reportabuse/.

Allegations of misconduct against any bishop in the United States should be communicated to law enforcement, the archdiocese said. Allegations also can be reported to a confidential third ­party reporting system at 1-800-276-1562 or online at https://reportbishopabuse.org/.

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