SNAP Letter to Bishop James V. Johnston

The Survivors Network of those Abuse by Priests
PO Box 56539 
Saint Louis MO 63156
The Most Reverend James V. Johnston, Jr.
Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph
20 West Ninth Street
Kansas City, Missouri 64105
Dear Bishop Johnston,
We are members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests; victims’ advocates; and supporters of victims of child sexual abuse.
We are writing you today because of the situation at St. Patrick’s parish, where you recently banned a 70-year-old volunteer after his more than 20-year history of inappropriate behavior with children. A letter about the man became public last week in an article in the Kansas City Star.
Since the article was published, we have received information from parishioners that this man has been found in many different suspicious situations with children. Many of these were potential doorways for abuse. We reported what we had learned to the Kansas City Police. When we called the law enforcement, we learned that a parishioner had already reported this man, but there was not enough to investigate. A church official did not report. Because of this, we believe that you broke the reporting law AND your 2008 non-monetary settlement agreement with victims of child sexual abuse. 
After 20 years, a written safety plan, numerous boundary violations, and inappropriate behavior with children—according to your letter—this man most likely produced plenty of evidence you could share with police. Why didn’t you report? 
In light of this, we are asking the following:
  • A public meeting—moderated and hosted by a neutral third party—with you, parishioners, parents, advocates, supporters, and SNAP. This meeting will address safety concerns at the parish and across the entire diocese. Subjects addressed will include reporting abuse, empowering parents to report, training on reporting laws, understanding the illegality of “internal investigations,” ethics issues in the December 2016 parish letter (including references to “gossip and speculation”) and accountability.
  • The installation of a third-party sexual abuse prevention oversight committee for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. Church officials have shown that they still need guidance when it comes to reporting abuse. Therefore, a third-party oversight committee consisting of survivors, attorneys for victims, and parents of victims can step in in cases like this, interviewing church officials, and determining where better training, systems, and hiring needs to happen.
We know that you understand the gravity of this situation. Cover-ups did not benefit your predecessor. We hope that your tenure in Kansas City-St. Joseph will be one of transparency and adherence to reporting laws. We hope to be your partner in the process.
Barbara Dorris
Outreach Director
Joelle Casteix
Southwestern Regional Director

Showing 5 comments

  • John Nesbella
    commented 2017-01-23 07:06:52 -0600
    I don’t expect to hear a rational explanation because it is nothing more than empty rhetoric.
  • Bruce Anderson
    commented 2017-01-21 12:41:08 -0600
    Yes Maggie, can you please explain your comment? Given the inglorious history of Diocese and Archdiocese behavior toward perpetrators abusing innocent children, I’d say a public meeting with stakeholders is hardly a witch trial. Suggesting that is ridiculous. The Bishop and Diocese should be happy to do so, if only to highlight their commitment to Safe Sanctuaries.
  • John Nesbella
    commented 2017-01-20 12:47:33 -0600
    I would like to hear Maggie’s argument and explanation as how you are causing more harm than good.

    And I fail to see the analogy with the Salem witch trials. Maybe someone could enlighten me.
  • Maggie Thomas
    commented 2017-01-19 16:25:54 -0600
    I know you mean well. But then again, so did the people who conducted the Salem witch trials. You are causing more harm than good.
  • Maggie Thomas
    followed this page 2017-01-19 16:25:18 -0600

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant