KBI Releases Report into Clergy Abuse, SNAP Applauds Victims for Coming Forward
For immediate release: January 9, 2022
A long-awaited report into Catholic clergy sexual abuse in Kansas has been released, and once again an independent, secular authority has reaffirmed the reality of the situation when it comes to institutional sexual abuse: the church playbook has always been to minimize, obfuscate, and silence.
In this case, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation spoke to 137 victims and combed through 225 reports and more than 40,000 pages of documents to create this final report. Despite the work that went into this report, we expect more to be revealed in the future as, due to delayed disclosure, it is likely that victims from the 1990s and 2000s have yet to come forward.
While it is important and valuable to learn about the investigation, it is disappointing that, of the 30 cases forward to prosecutors, none have been able to move forward. The reality of statutes of limitations and the passing of time has made these cases nearly impossible to prosecute, but we hope that the victims who came forward for this investigation feel helped and healed. We honor their courage and bravery in coming forward.
Ultimately, it is both disappointing and validating to read that the church in Kansas did exactly what the Church did in Boston, Pennsylvania, Munich, Australia, and so many other places. First, church officials acted to protect the accused priest, minimizing their crimes of rape and assault as mere “boundary violations” or “inappropriate conduct.” Then, when they moved the priest to a new area where they could escape the allegations, they lied to parishioners about the reasoning, describing the moves as procedural or due to retirements. Finally, victims were treated with disregard, subjected to biased and inefficient investigations, and forced into silence through the use of non-disclosure agreements and fear of retribution. Our hearts break for the victims and their families throughout Kansas who were subjected to this kind of treatment.
Michael McDonnell, a spokesperson for the international Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said that while the numbers of alleged abuses before 1990 are not surprising, the numbers after that are “still questionable” because many victims likely have not come forward. McDonnell said it’s “the Catholic Church playbook” to run out the clock on potential criminal charges and then be cooperative. “What we want to know is who was complicit?” McDonnell said, adding that abusers were allowed “to continue their careers in transfer upon transfer upon transfer only to go on to abuse more children?”
This report is yet another signal flare that legislative change is needed to support survivors and protect children. A glaring absence is that of the alleged abusers’ names. In a comment to KCTV-5 “The Archdiocese has openly collaborated with the KBI from the moment we initiated an extensive and thorough review of our internal files by an independent, outside law firm,” said Vicar General Father John Riley. “We shared the full results of our independent review with the KBI and have continued to provide additional information throughout the investigation.”
We demand the names of alleged abusers in this report and that the Archdiocese list of credibly accused be updated immediately. We hope that legislators in Kansas will look into abolishing their civil statute of limitations and open a lookback window so that more abusers can be brought to light and to justice. Similarly, we hope they will move to make clergy and church staff mandatory reporters so that there are penalties and deterrents for not reporting abuse to authorities.
CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications ([email protected], 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386)
(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)