MO--Predator priest who was in KC finds another position around kids
For immediate release: Wednesday, Dec. 3
Statement by Mike Hunter of Kansas City, KC Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (913 634 6490, [email protected])
In 2010, an admitted predator priest was ousted from working with the Special Olympics in KC.
Now, he’s been caught at another non-profit around vulnerable low income families and unsuspecting colleagues.
He is the now-defrocked Fr. Thomas E. Ericksen.
At least three other credibly accused predator priests who have been in Kansas City (and are from KC) are in similar situations, living out-of-state now among unsuspecting neighbors. They are:
--Fr. Thomas Cronin (in Nevada, trying to open a shelter for homeless and abused women and girls),
--Fr. Michael Brewer (in Colorado, working with gay youth) and
--Fr. Mark Honhart (in Pennsylvania, unsure what he’s doing).
Civil suits against all four priests have been settled and all of them are suspended. (More info is available at BishopAccountability.org. Their victims were represented by Rebecca Randles 816 931 9901, 816 510 2704, [email protected])
This is why we keep pushing KC Bishop Robert Finn to post predator priests names on church websites, like 30 of his colleagues have done. If these priests are too dangerous to have working in parishes, they are too dangerous to have living among unsuspecting families.
(Here’s a list of the 30 bishops who HAVE posted predators’ names: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/AtAGlance/lists.htm)
We again call on Finn to take this simple, cheap and effective prevention move. And we call on him to aggressively seek out anyone who has knowledge or suspicions about Eriksen for a minute: He got these s crimes.
Keep in mind that Ericksen gets these positions around children and families despite
---a pending criminal investigation into his alleged child sex crimes,
---a civil settlement with a Catholic diocese of at least $3 million dollars, and
---three decades of knowledge of his crimes by Catholic officials.
Some of the blame falls to these non-profit agencies – Community Emergency Assistance Program in St. Paul and Special Olympics in Kansas City. (How hard is it to Google prospective employees and volunteers?) Some blame belongs to the Sawyer County Wisconsin law enforcement officials who apparently aren’t trying very hard to find and question Ericksen. (If a reporter can locate him and get him to confess on the phone, how hard can a police investigation be?) But much of the blame belongs to Catholic officials in Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin who continue to do little or nothing to warn parents, police, prosecutors, parishioners or the public about men they know are dangerous.
Ericksen reportedly molested two Wisconsin boys, Paul and James Eck, who have spoken publicly about the abuse and are pursuing criminal charges against Ericksen. They sued and were paid a $3 million dollar settlement by Superior Catholic church officials.
A reporter asked Ericksen if he admitted the accusations. Ericksen initially replied “I have no comment.” He later denied the allegations but said “I thought that was all settled in the courts.”
According to the News Tribune, “Ericksen has posted detailed biographies of himself on the social and professional networking sites MySpace and LinkedIn, listing his e-mail address and MySpace handle as ‘saint_tom.’ He lists himself as a graduate of St. Francis Seminary and a “Holy Reverend Priest of God” from 1973 to 1983, the same year Paul Eck alleges he was molested. Ericksen writes that he moved to Minneapolis and worked at AT&T as a customer service specialist for 20 years before relocating to Kansas City, where he lists himself as working for the census.” He attended college in Wisconsin and seminary in Kentucky.
Catholic church officials – in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Missouri - should do now what they should have done ages ago: use their websites and parish bulletins to alert their flock about Ericksen’s presence in these area and his crimes. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:d3YW6_fVikEJ:www.linkedin.com/in/tomericksen+St.+Francis+Seminary+and+a+%E2%80%9CHoly+Reverend+Priest+of+God%E2%80%9D&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
And employers must exercise more caution. It goes against our innate sense of fair play and open-mindedness, but experience has taught us that employers must be extra careful when considering ex-priests as potential employees. That may sound hard or unreasonable to some, but likely not to moms and dads who must put the safety of their vulnerable kids ahead of the comfort of powerful adults.
According to an independent Boston-based research group called BishopAccountability.org, “Ericksen is accused of molesting three boys in 1983 while assigned at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Winter, WI. Two of the accusers sued and settled with Ericksen and Diocese in 1989 for nearly $3M. The diocese says Ericksen was officially removed from priesthood in 1988. He was never criminally charged. Two more men claimed, in 6/10, that he raped them as boys. Efforts were underway in 2010 to extradite him from Missouri. He left WI in 1983 and the statute of limitations may have been suspended. He has denied allegations.”
Here is Fr. Erickson’s photo and work history:
Two final points:
1) We long for the day that statements like this are put out by Catholic officials with their vast resources, instead of by a small, under-funded support group like us.
2) We beg anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by Ericksen – or cover ups by his Catholic supervisors and colleagues – to protect kids, call police, expose wrongdoers and start healing.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)