‘You die on the inside’ — Abuse victims ask for Kansas, Missouri to open grand jury investigations
The Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas failed to include six priests on a list it released last week of 22 clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors, a victims’ advocate group said Thursday.
“The allegations arose elsewhere, but these six publicly accused child-molesting priests worked at some point in or around Kansas City, Kansas,” said David Clohessy, former national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “Therefore, they could very well have molested here, too.”
The six priests, Clohessy said, have either been convicted, sued or publicly exposed by Catholic officials or governmental entities, mostly in other states.
SNAP disclosed the names at a news conference Thursday afternoon outside the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in Kansas City, Kan.
The archdiocese said in a statement Thursday that the six priests “were not priests of the archdiocese.” However, it acknowledged that some served in parishes in the archdiocese.
“The Archdiocese has no record that four of the six were assigned to ministry in the archdiocese,” the archdiocese said. “After consultation with Husch Blackwell, the law firm hired to independently review all of the archdiocese’s files, the archdiocese can also confirm that there are no priest/personnel files for any of the six men named, and no record indicating that sexual abuse involving minors by these individuals in connection with the archdiocese was ever reported to the archdiocese.”
The Official Catholic Directory shows that two of the priests served in several towns in northeast Kansas, the archdiocese said. But it added that “the Archdiocese has no record of allegations of sexual abuse of minors against these priests while serving in the Archdiocese.”
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann said of the other four priests: “It is possible that one or more of these individuals helped out, undertook studies or lived in the area at some time in the past. But if they did, we were not aware of it because the records, going back some 75 years, did not show it.
“That is one of the many challenges in preparing a list like the one published in The Leaven last week,” Naumann said. “It is also one of the reasons that we are appealing now to anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse as a minor by a priest of our archdiocese — or by any priest, deacon, employee or volunteer working in our archdiocese — to come forward.”
Last Friday, the archdiocese revealed the names of priests who it said have had credible sexual abuse allegations lodged against them in the past 75 years. The list was published in The Leaven, the archdiocesan newspaper.
The archdiocese’s list also included four additional priests who it said had allegations that were previously publicized but were not able to be substantiated. Naumann said none of those on the list was in current ministry in the archdiocese.
Of those 22 priests, 10 had been a part of the archdiocese, according to The Leaven. Others belonged to religious orders but served in the archdiocese. Eleven of the 22 are deceased and seven have been laicized, or removed from the priesthood. The status of others is not known.
Four of the six priests named Thursday by SNAP are deceased, and the whereabouts of the other two are unknown, the group said.
SNAP’s action comes as dioceses across the country have been releasing their own lists of priests deemed to have credible allegations against them. Pressure to disclose the names has been mounting since 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.
On Thursday, 14 Catholic dioceses in Texas released a long-awaited list of priests who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors from 1950 to the present. The only diocese in the state that did not release names, Fort Worth, had already done so.
The six priests named by SNAP as having connections to the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas:
▪ Anthony D. Palmese, deemed “credibly accused” on the Archdiocese of Omaha’s website last November. A member of the New Jersey-based Order of Augustinian Recollects, Palmese is accused of sexually abusing an Omaha boy in the mid-1980s. He also served in parishes in New York City, Topeka and Orlando, according to his obituary. He died in 2012.
▪ Roger A. Sinclair has a long history of abuse allegations. The Pennsylvania grand jury report said Catholic officials in that state were told in 1981 that Sinclair molested two 14-year-old boys and the church was made aware of other alleged victims in 1983. The report said Sinclair was placed on sick leave and received therapy for “emotional problems” at the House of Affirmation in Missouri in St. Louis in 1983 and 1984. He then returned to active ministry and served as a military chaplain. In 1991, while at Topeka State Hospital, the report said, Sinclair deceitfully gained access to a locked unit “and attempted to check out teenage boys from the hospital to go see a movie on two separate occasions.” He was removed from clerical duties in 2002 after two more victims came forward, then resigned from the priesthood in 2005. Last year, Sinclair was sentenced to more than seven years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a 19-year-old mentally disabled man in Oregon in 2016.
▪ Eugene A. Maio was named in December when the Jesuits’ U.S. Central and Southern Province released a list of Jesuit priests who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor. Maio was accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a student at Marymount High School in Los Angeles in the mid-1960s while on the faculty at the Jesuits’ Loyola University. The Jesuit province said the abuse allegation was received after Maio left the priesthood in 1971. According to bishopaccountability.org, Maio was listed in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas as a student priest in the early 1960s.
▪ Placidus Kieffer, a Benedictine priest, was accused in 2002 of sexually abusing a boy in the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, in the 1960s, after Kieffer was sent there from St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison, Kan. According to the Official Catholic Directory, he served at Catholic churches in Atchison, Kelly, Doniphan, Troy, Effingham, Sabetha and Fidelity in Kansas. He was named by the Diocese of Davenport in 2008 on a list of “credibly accused” priests who had served in the diocese. He died in 1990.
▪ John C. (Fidelis) Forrester, a Benedictine priest, is named on lists of credibly accused priests in the Diocese of Davenport and the Diocese of Seattle. A Kansas City native, his assignments included Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Seneca, Kan., and St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison. He also was a teacher at Maur Hill in Atchison, a chaplain at Mount St. Scholastica Academy in Atchison and served as a chaplain in the U.S. Army. Forrester has had credible allegations against him involving three minors in the Davenport diocese and has been the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging sexual abuse. In 2005, the Archdiocese of Seattle and St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison settled lawsuits with seven plaintiffs for $2.6 million. In 2006, the Seattle archdiocese and the abbey settled lawsuits with four other plaintiffs for $1.41 million. And the Seattle archdiocese recently paid nearly $7 million to settle sex abuse claims brought by six men against six priests, including Forrester. He died in 2002.
▪ Norman J. Rogge, a Jesuit priest, was listed in December by the Diocese of Mobile, Ala., and by the Jesuits as being credibly accused. He was ordained in 1956 and assigned at St. Mary’s College in St. Mary’s, Kan., in 1957. In 1967, he pleaded guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor in Florida and received three years’ probation. In 1985, he pleaded no contest to a lewdness charge in an incident in which he and two friends — one a convicted child molester — spent two days nude in a Florida cabin and masturbated in front of an 11-year-old boy. Rogge was removed from ministry in 2002 after the Dallas Morning News published a story about his past offenses. He died in 2009.
SNAP also on Thursday called on church officials to add the six additional priests to the archdiocese’s website along with photos, locations and work histories of all publicly accused priests.
The list should include priests who have sexually abused, exploited and harassed adults as well, SNAP said.
The group cited a 2016 church newsletter in which Naumann said that two of his priests had been accused of sexually exploiting adults.
The Rev. Anthony Kiplagat, the newsletter said, had left his parishes in Osage City and Scranton and returned home to Kenya. The Rev. George Seuferling, the archdiocese said, faced multiple allegations, was suspended in 2011 and was in the process of being removed from the priesthood.