Survivors group calls on Jefferson City bishop to seek out abuse victims
Representatives from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests presented a letter Wednesday to the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City, asking that Bishop W. Shawn McKnight take more steps concerning the diocese's list of credibly accused clergy.
David Clohessy, former national director of SNAP, called on McKnight to contact any place the Rev. Deusdedit "Deo" Mulokozi had served and "beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to come forward."
Mulokozi served in the Diocese of Jefferson City through the Society of Precious Blood, which serves communities through missionary work. He was expelled from the diocese because the bishop at the time found him to be unsuitable for ministry and out of concern for children.
Mulokozi is listed on the diocese's credibly accused and/or removed from ministry page.
It only takes seconds for a predator to abuse a child, Clohessy said.
"Whether Father Deo was in a place for hours or years, he could have hurt somebody," Clohessy said. "That person may very well be suffering in silence and shame and embarrassment and self-blame."
The diocese notified the Society of Precious Blood about Mulokozi, diocesan Director of Communications Helen Osman said. While Mulokozi's activities in the Diocese of Jefferson City did not necessarily violate the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, it did raise concerns, she said.
The diocese should do much more, Clohessy said. It should contact places where Mulokozi has been known to reside — Texas, Kansas City and Africa, where he attended seminary and where he taught.
"This is the bishop's job," he said. "It's hard to recover from trauma when, time after time, you see Catholic officials not doing their job, not doing the kind of outreach and the kind of warning they should."
When the Diocese of Jefferson City released the first version of its credibly accused list, it printed the list in every one of its parishes, Osman said. McKnight went throughout the diocese and held listening sessions.
He's already doing his job, she said.
"(The sessions were) a way for us to remind people that the diocese is here if you want to reach out to us," Osman continued. "Law enforcement has to be the first contact if you suspect abuse."
The diocese offers an assistance coordinator, Nancy Hoey, who can be contacted at 573-694-3199. The diocese website also offers contact information for the Missouri Attorney General's Office, should someone need to report clergy abuse, and abuse hotlines for child abuse or neglect 1-800-392-3738 and adult abuse or neglect 1-800-392-0210.
"When we add a name to the list, we send a notice to all the parishes where that man served. We do a good job of informing people and inviting people to come forward," Osman said.
About 21,000 people have gone through the diocese's Safe Environment training, an online program that gives people information about what predatory behavior looks like, what grooming is, and what to do if they see that kind of behavior, Osman said. It teaches people what they can do to make certain their organizations follow safe protocols.
That's 21,000 people within the diocese who have received training specifically to help them identify abuse.
"We're providing a lot of eyes and ears out there to keep our kids safe," Osman said.
Members of SNAP also asked Wednesday what happened with the Rev. Geoffrey Brooke, the former associate pastor at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Jefferson City.
The diocese put Brooke on administrative leave in March 2019. Police investigated allegations that he had violated boundaries with minors. However, police and civil authorities decided not to pursue charges against him in September 2019.
Following the criminal investigation, the diocese conducted its own investigation.
The Diocesan Review Board recommended and McKnight forwarded the matter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, a large Catholic office in Rome that reviews cases and disciplines clergy. As of Wednesday, the congregation had not come to a determination.