Letter to Kansas Attorney General 'Victims back reform bill & seek predators' names'
(For Immediate Release January 20, 2023)
Dear Attorney General Kobach:
Two weeks ago, after four years of investigation, your predecessor released a dreadfully disappointing 21 page report on Catholic officials who committed or concealed horrific child sex crimes. But he refused to name a single wrongdoer.
The Nebraska AG issued a similar report, 182 pages, naming 57 credibly accused abusive Catholic clerics. https://www.bishop-accountability.org/2021/11/nebraska-clergy-sex-abuse-report-258-victims-57-predators-no-prosecution/
The Missouri AG released a similar report, 329 pages, naming 173 credibly accused abusive Catholic clerics. https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/2019/catholicchurchclergyabuseinvestigationreport.pdf
The Pennsylvania AG issued a similar report, 884 pages, naming 301 credibly accused abusive Catholic clerics. https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/taking-action/attorney-general-shapiro-details-findings-of-2-year-grand-jury-investigation-into-child-sex-abuse-by-catholic-priests-in-six-pennsylvania-dioceses/
The Colorado AG released a similar report, 241 pages, naming 41 credibly accused abusive Catholic clerics. https://www.bishop-accountability.org/reports/2019_10_22_Colorado_Special_Masters_Report_FINAL.pdf
The Michigan AG released a similar report, 149 pages, naming 44 credibly accused abusive Catholic clerics in just one small diocese (She also criminally charged seven predator priests in just one year). https://www.michigan.gov/ag/news/press-releases/2019/12/27/ag-nessel-seven-priests-charged-in-2019-more-to-come
The Maryland AG a similar report, 456 pages, which found that 158 Catholic clerics there are credibly abused of abusing more than 600 victims. (The AG is now fighting in court to get their names made public.) https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/18/us/baltimore-priest-sexual-abuse.html
We could go on and on detailing AGs who have done a better job than your predecessor.
In their reports, other attorneys general included moving and detailed victim testimonies.
And strong recommendations for legislative action. And names of top church staffers who enabled crimes. And descriptions of how longstanding and far-reaching church cover ups have been.
Again, we could provide example after example, detailing AGs who have done a better job than your predecessor.
The Kansas report, as best we can tell, includes little or none of these crucial features that provide more helpful details, context and remedies.
(Adding insult to injury, we know of no other attorney general who has issued a report as selfishly and disingenuously as Derek Schmidt did - when it was least likely to attract public attention - without warning at 5:19 p.m., on a Friday evening - and when he was least likely to face scrutiny about it - literally hours before he left office at noon on a Monday.)
In short, Kansas parents are being denied crucial information that would help them protect their children from child molesters. You can - and must - remedy this secrecy and recklessness. We hope you will do so quickly and voluntarily.
But just in case, for the safety of vulnerable children, the healing of wounded adults and the prevention of child sex abuse cover ups now and in the future, we are asking for all records sufficient to identify the names of the Catholic employees and volunteers (ordained clergy and lay people) who have been credibly accused of committing or concealing child sex crimes in Kansas through the KBI's investigation. Their titles, current status, full employment histories and/or assignment records - year by year - should also be made available. We hope you respond quickly and thoroughly to this Open Records Act request.
WHY DISCLOSING THE NAMES OF LIVING PROVEN, ADMITTED & CREDIBLY ACCUSED CHILD MOLESTERS IS IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
In two words: public safety.
Many child molesting Catholic clerics have of course passed away. But from court records, diocesan admissions and mainstream media reports, it's clear that dozens of already-publicly-identified abusive priests, nuns, monks, brothers and seminarians (admitted, proven and deemed 'credibly accused' by their Catholic supervisors) are still
It's especially important that these dangerous individuals are publicly exposed because, as your predecessor's report indicates, virtually all of them seem to have evaded criminal prosecution, thanks in part to their complicit colleagues and supervisors and Kansas' weak child protection laws.
They could be living or working anywhere, in Kansas or beyond, very likely among colleagues and neighbors who have no idea of the risk they pose to children. They could be tutoring struggling kids at the public library this morning, coaching soccer this afternoon or giving private piano lessons in a private apartment tonight. They could of course be raping or sodomizing children today.
Kids are safest when abusers are charged, convicted and imprisoned. But when that can't happen, the next 'best step' is the public exposing abusers, so that parents, police, prosecutors and the public can do whatever they can to keep children away from them. Mothers and fathers can best safeguard their youngsters if they know who poses a threat to these vulnerable boys and girls.
WHY DISCLOSING THE NAMES OF DECEASED PROVEN, ADMITTED & CREDIBLY ACCUSED CHILD MOLESTERS IS IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
In a word: healing.
At a bare minimum, those of us who've been sexually assaulted as youngsters by clerics deserve - and need - some validation and closure. (It's very hard to recover from an unacknowledged wound.) In our collective decades of experience in this arena, we know that many suffering victims feel vindication and relief when our predators are 'outed.'
When child molesters are publicly revealed, many survivors finally feel safe in disclosing their pain to their families and loved ones. That, in turn, facilitates greater healing as well.
WHY DISCLOSING THE NAMES OF CHURCH STAFF WHO IGNORED, HID &/OR ENABLED ABUSE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
In a word: prevention.
When crimes go undetected and unpunished, crimes keep happening. When other employers see officials facing civil justice for their complicity in child sex crimes, those employers will work harder to do thorough background checks on applicants, better train their workers to detect and report suspected abuse and take other steps to weed out potentially dangerous employees.
Look around Mr. Kobach. Child sex crimes and cover ups remain prevalent – and devastating - across the US and here in the Midwest. Consider these recent examples.
--In 2021, six employees of the controversial Agape boarding school (including its longtime doctor) were charged with child sex crimes and abuse counts. Missouri's then-attorney general contended that 22 workers there "should have been charged."
--Founders of a similar, just-shuttered Missouri facility face a combined 99 charges that include child abuse and neglect, sex crimes and other counts. https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/local/agape-boarding-school-stockton-missouri/63-1af71095-105b-4904-b303-c3c344c1ead2
--Last June, a list of at least 20 accused abusive Southern Baptists with Oklahoma ties was made public. https://www.oklahoman.com/story/news/religion/2022/05/28/southern-baptist-convention-list-sexual-abusers-includes-oklahoma-ties/9953993002/
--A year ago, Nebraskans saw this headline: "Six men sentenced, 13 others arrested for sexual exploitation of same child victim."
The best available research shows that one in four girls and one in 13 boys are sexually abused in childhood in the US. The harm is incalculable.
Please, Mr. Kobach, protect Kansas kids. Show some courage and use your considerable powers to make public as much as possible of the KBI's four year investigation, especially the names of those who committed and concealed devastating crimes against Kansas children.
Finally, we of course strongly urge you to redact any and all information about witnesses, whistleblowers and survivors in the material you disclose. If kids are to be protected, we as a society must protect the privacy and safety of anyone who sees, suspects or suffers child sexual abuse.
With our Kansas Open Records Act request, we urge you to move quickly. Every day a child molester remains 'under the radar,' he can strike again, devastating not just a child, but his or her entire family. And every day that an 'enabler' gets by with ignoring or hiding child sex crimes increases the chances that predators abuse again and that others who could expose predators stay silent.
David Clohessy of SNAP (314 566 9790, [email protected])
Tom White of SNAP ([email protected])
SNAP-Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests