‘A grave human tragedy’: KCK archbishop names 22 priests credibly accused of sex abuse

The Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas on Friday released the names of 22 priests in its files who have had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against them in the past 75 years.

“Each name on this list represents a grave human tragedy,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann in a statement published Friday in The Leaven, the archdiocesan newspaper. “Each name represents a betrayal of trust and a violation of the innocent.”

In addition to the 22, the list includes four priests whom the archdiocese said have had previously publicized allegations that were not able to be substantiated.

None on the list is in current ministry in the archdiocese, Naumann said.

The list was compiled after a review of about 1,080 clergy files dating back more than 75 years, the archdiocese said. The review was conducted by the Chicago office of the Husch Blackwell law firm.

A report based on the findings was provided to the Kansas attorney general, the archdiocese said. Naumann said the list will be updated if new information comes to light.

Of the 22 clergy on the list, 10 were priests of the archdiocese, according to The Leaven. Eleven are dead and seven have been laicized, or removed from the priesthood. The status of some others are unknown.

Victims’ advocates said the action was long overdue.

“Survivors of abuse have been requesting the archdiocese to release names for many, many years so that others could be protected from their fate,” said Rebecca Randles, a Kansas City attorney who has represented hundreds of clergy sex abuse victims. “The archdiocese’s release today of the partial list of perpetrators is a step in the right direction but still does not provide the transparency necessary to restore trust.

“Abuse of minors by clergy is not a problem from the past; it is an ongoing issue for which the archdiocese must be proactive. It still evidences disbelief when confronted with allegations of abuse.”

Naumann said the sexual abuse of children and youth by Catholic priests “contradicts our church’s teaching on authentic love, the beauty of human sexuality and the dignity of the human person.”

“What was done to victims by those who were called to be spiritual fathers is cause for great shame,” the archbishop said. “On behalf of the church, I apologize to each victim and pledge our commitment to do all that we can to assist with your healing.”

In his statement, Naumann thanked “all the victims who have courageously come forward with allegations in order to prevent someone else from being victimized as well as to assist with the progress of their own healing process.”

“I also am grateful to members of the secular press that have brought accusations to light and compelled the Church to address this evil in order to promote the healing of victims and protect our children and youth today and in the future.”

Naumann said the list is accurate “based on the information we possess at this moment.” He said there are other allegations that need additional investigation.

An accusation is considered substantiated, Naumann said, if the accused has admitted to the incident. If the accused has denied the allegation, he said, it can be substantiated if there is corroborating evidence, knowledgeable testimony of others or multiple accusations.

Naumann said releasing the names “was not a simple task.”

“The Church has a responsibility to be transparent about sexual misconduct with children or minors by those with leadership responsibilities in the Church,” he said. “I have an obligation to protect all those entrusted to my pastoral care, especially with children.

“At the same time, I have a solemn responsibility also to protect the good names of our priests — the vast majority of whom serve with selfless dedication — from having their reputations harmed by sometimes sincere but nevertheless unsubstantiated accusations.”

The priest sex abuse issue erupted in August when a grand jury in Pennsylvania released a report finding that church leaders had covered up sexual abuse by hundreds of priests over seven decades. Since then, bishops across the country have been under pressure to release the names of their credibly accused priests, and many have done so.

In Missouri, the Diocese of Jefferson City and the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau have released names of priests with substantiated allegations. The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has not released names and said last week that it continues “to actively cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigation of Missouri dioceses.”

“It is hoped that the Attorney General’s review will result in as thorough a list of historical abuse as possible,” the diocese said. “Our priority is to rigorously comply with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in order to make sure all children are safe from the evil of abuse. We are confident that there is no priest currently in ministry in Kansas City who has been accused of child sexual abuse.”

The priests with substantiated allegations in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas:

John Brayley, an Oblate missionary, now deceased. Estimated time frame of abuse: 1980 while visiting friends in Roeland Park.

Lambert Dannenfelser, a Franciscan priest, now deceased. Estimated time frame of abuse: 1989. Multiple allegations.

John Fiala, Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, now deceased. Estimated time frame of abuse: mid-1980s, not within the archdiocese. Multiple allegations. In 2012, Fiala was sentenced to 60 years in prison for plotting to kill a Texas boy who accused him of sex abuse.

William Finnerty, Archdiocese of KCK, now deceased. Estimated time frame of abuse: early to mid-1960s. Multiple allegations.

James Forsythe, Archdiocese of KCK, laicized in 2005. Estimated time frame of abuse: 1987. Multiple allegations. Pleaded guilty in 1989 to attempting to take indecent liberties with a child while a pastor at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Overland Park. Sentenced to one to five years in prison; placed on probation after three months and sent to a Catholic facility in New Mexico for seven months of residential treatment. Later became a minister of Metropolitan Community Church of the Black Hills in Rapid City, S.D. but stepped down in 2002 after The Star revealed he had not registered as a sex offender there, as required by law.

Lawrence Ginzkey, Archdiocese of KCK, laicized in 2005. Estimated time frame of abuse: 1985. Multiple allegations.

Dave Gottschalk, Capuchin Franciscans. Estimated time frame of abuse: unknown. Multiple allegations.

John J. Harrington, Archdiocese of KCK, died in 1986. Estimated time frame of abuse: 1940s and 1960s. Multiple allegations.

David Imming, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, laicized in 2011. Estimated time frame of abuse: 1980 in Oklahoma. Multiple allegations.

Martin Juarez, Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, laicized in 2005. Estimated time frame of abuse: early to mid-1980s. Multiple allegations.

Marvin Justi, Capuchin Franciscans, died in 2009. Estimated time frame of abuse: 1969 in Pennsylvania.

Steven Lamping, Franciscans, deceased. Estimated time frame of abuse: 1950s. Multiple allegations.

Adrian Licktieg, Carmelites, presumably deceased. Estimated time frame of abuse: 1959.

Finian Meis, Capuchin Franciscans, died in 1997. Estimated time frame of abuse: 1972-1979. Multiple allegations.

Donald Redmond, Benedictines, removed from ministry in 2002. Estimated time frame of abuse: 1960-1968. Multiple allegations.

Barry Richardson, Archdiocese of KCK, laicized in 2005. Estimated time frame of abuse: 1999. Multiple allegations.

Edward Roberts, Archdiocese of KCK, died in 1997. Estimated time frame of abuse: 1949 to early 1990s. Multiple allegations.

Frank Schepers, Archdiocese of KCK, died in 2002. Estimated time frame of abuse: 1976-1976.

Dennis Schmitz, Archdiocese of KCK, laicized in 2005. Estimated time frame of abuse: 1990s and 1998. Multiple allegations. Sentenced to 32 months in prison in 2002 for inappropriately touching a 15-year-old boy.

John Henry Wisner, Archdiocese of KCK, laicized in 2017. Estimated time frame of abuse: 1977-1984. Multiple allegations.

Chuck Wolfe, Capuchin Franciscans, current status unknown. Estimated time frame of abuse: 1976.

Camillus Wurtz, Benedictines, died in 2013. Estimated time frame of abuse: 1960.

Priests with previously publicized allegations not able to be substantiated:

William Haegelin, Archdiocese of KCK, laicized in 2004. Estimated time frame of abuse: 1983-1984.

Scott James Kallal, Archdiocese of KCK, on administrative leave. Estimated time frame of abuse: 2015. Charged in Wyandotte County in 2017 with two felony counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. Case ongoing.

Anthony Putti, Diocese of Guntur, India, no longer affiliated. Estimated time frame of abuse: 2009-2010. Recalled to home diocese prior to allegation of abuse of a minor. Denies abuse. Investigated by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

Christopher Rossman, Archdiocese of KCK, removed from ministry in 2016. Estimated time frame of abuse: 2016. Law enforcement investigation is ongoing.

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