Notorious defrocked KC predator priest is accused again

The Kansas City Catholic diocese admits another credible report of abuse by a notorious, serial, now-defrocked predator priest, Thomas M. Reardon. Now, Bishop James Johnston should break with his long-standing pattern of ‘bare minimum behavior’ and act like a real shepherd by essentially doing ‘contact tracing’ and vigorously seeking out others who Reardon assaulted.

Reardon is one of the three most prolific child molesting clerics in Missouri historyhaving been named in more than 20 lawsuits as having sexually abused kids. The abuse is said to have occurred throughout his career as a priest, and typically included plying youngsters with alcohol and marijuana.

(The other two most prolific MO predators are Fr. Michael S. McGrath and Msgr. Thomas J. O'Brien.

Two other KC priests were named as having participated with Reardon in abuse of children (O’Brien and then-Fr. Joseph Hart, who was promoted to become bishop of the Wyoming diocese).

Many incidents were reported to have taken place at a lake home and in church facilities. Reardon had several chancery positions, including with the Catholic Youth Organization.

He left the priesthood in 1989 and went on to become a substance abuse counselor. The diocese said in Nov. 2011 that Reardon was in the process of being defrocked by the Vatican. And in 2004, he faced the first of a number of civil child sex abuse and cover up lawsuits.

So virtually no one doubts or denies that he was a dangerous serial child predator. Yet Bishop James Johnston helps protect his image and church finances by doing little to find and help others hurt by Reardon who are suffering in silence, shame and self-blame.

Johnston should personally go to every place Reardon worked. He should beg anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered Reardon’s crimes to break their silence, start their healing, and get help from independent sources.

Johnston could forge a new and compassionate path here. He could – and should – plainly tell everyone he can – especially current and former church members and staff – “Reardon was a serial child predator. If he hurt you, it’s not your fault and you can recover. Please come forward. And if he did NOT hurt you, please ask others who might have crossed his path if they were hurt. If so, give them the same message: ‘It’s not your fault and you can recover. Please come forward.’””

Reardon was ordained in Kansas City MO in 1967 and worked at both the Cathedral and St. Elizabeth’s for four years each. (Both parishes are in Kansas City.) He also worked at St. John Francis Regis, St. Gabriel Archangel, the Catholic Youth Organization and various archdiocesan offices (all in KC), Church of Santa Fe in Buckner, and Camp Little Flower in Raytown.

Within the last decade, Reardon lived at an apartment complex at Birch and 133rd in Leawood, KS, near three schools and the Deer Creek subdivision.

In 1989, Reardon resigned from the priesthood. Earlier, he had been sent to John Hopkins for treatment for his “addictions,” yet still the KC diocese paid for him to become a licensed counselor. In 2004, however, Reardon voluntarily turned in that professional license when lawsuits against him began piling up. (He eventually faced at least 25 accusers and almost all of them have settled civil cases against him.)

The schools near Reardon’s home are Oxford Park Academy (13200 Nall Ave., 913 897 2774), Overland Trail Elementary (6225 W 133rd, 913 239 7000), and Mission Trail Elementary (13200 Mission Rd., 913 239 6700). All are a mile or less away from Reardon’s home.

CONTACT: David Clohessy (davidgclohessy@gmail.com)

(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)


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