Kansas Catholic officials disclose child sexual abuse accusations against a long-time priest "substantiated;" SNAP weighs in

Kansas Catholic officials disclosed this week that child sexual abuse accusations against a long-time priest have been found "substantiated." We find it very disturbing that the accusations were first disclosed in 2004, yet the cleric remained in active ministry until his retirement in 2013, and likely continued to work as a supply priest in the following years. The clergyman was not placed on the Diocese's list of abusers until this week. We know that false accusations of child sexual abuse are extremely rare, and that those who prey on children rarely stop on their own. Our hearts ache for all the young lives that may have been endangered over the past 20 years.

The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and St. Benedict’s Abbey, Atchison, announced on May 27, 2024, that Father Roderic Giller, OSB, who retired from parish ministry in July 2013, was the subject of "substantiated allegations" of sexual abuse of children during the time he was working at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Seneca. Shockingly, the Archdiocese and Abbey admitted that they first received those accusations in July 2004.

Frankly, we just do not believe the claim made by Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann on his website that, "While the archdiocese and abbey first received these allegations in July 2004, they were treated at that time as boundary violations would be today. Further investigation was undertaken recently due to updated safe environment protocols and additional information. A better understanding of the events has resulted in the allegations being substantiated."

We in SNAP strongly suspect that another victim, witness, or whistleblower came forward, or that some other factor prompted this belated disclosure. For the health and safety of today's children, we hope that anyone else who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Fr. Giller, or cover ups by Church officials, will find the courage to talk with trusted sources of support, like therapists, police, prosecutors, loved ones, or support groups like ours, and ultimately make a report to law enforcement. The best outcome in these cases usually comes when the secular authorities intervene.

The Archdiocese and the Abbey should have reached out in 2004 to all the places that Fr. Giller worked and begged victims and witnesses to come forward and make a report to law enforcement. People with important information may be reluctant to inform on a priest, and the encouragement of Church officials can counter that hesitancy. The question now is, will the Archdiocese and the Abbey take that step now? There may be those who still have cases within the criminal statute of limitations.

Sadly, if history is any guide, we suspect Church officials will do nothing.

Fr. Giller, a Benedictine, worked at parishes and Church institutions in these Kansas towns: Hiawatha, Sabetha, Fidelity, Seneca, Wathena, Troy, Bendena and Atchison. An Atchison native, the clergyman reportedly studied at St. Benedict's College and Maur Hill Prep School. As of two weeks ago, he was still posting on line.

CONTACT: David Clohessy, SNAP Missouri ([email protected], 314-566-9790), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Director ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Interim Executive Director ([email protected], 814- 341-8386)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

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