‘She was scared’: Mother testifies in trial of KCK priest accused of sexual abuse

Spotlight Team editor Walter Robinson: Many did the same as Bernard Law

Walter Robinson, who was an editor on the Spotlight investigative team that uncovered sexual abuse on children in the Catholic Church, said many have helped cover up abuse like Bernard Law did.
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Walter Robinson, who was an editor on the Spotlight investigative team that uncovered sexual abuse on children in the Catholic Church, said many have helped cover up abuse like Bernard Law did.

The adoptive mother of a girl allegedly sexually abused by a Catholic priest in Kansas City, Kansas, testified Wednesday that she waited to report the inappropriate touching she witnessed because she didn’t think the church would do anything.

She saw the priest carrying her daughter in a way he shouldn’t have been, she said. But she did not see him touch her daughter’s breast as the girl later reported.

Because the mother hadn’t witnessed sexual abuse, she felt the incident she did witness would be “swept under the rug” and forgotten about, she testified.

It wasn’t until months later that she came forward and reported what happened.

The testimony came during the trial of the Rev. Scott Kallal, 37, who is charged in Wyandotte County District Court with two felony counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child.

The Rev. Scott Kallal
The Rev. Scott Kallal LORIWOODHABIGER Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas

The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas suspended Kallal in July 2017 after receiving allegations of inappropriate conduct involving two people, one a minor.

Kallal has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The trial, which continues this week, concerns two incidents that allegedly occurred in 2015, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing in December 2017. The girl testified at the hearing that twice when she was 10, Kallal had tickled her breasts against her wishes.

The first alleged incident was at a friend’s graduation party in Bonner Springs in spring 2015. The second allegedly took place a few months later at the parish hall gymnasium at St. Patrick’s church in Kansas City, Kansas.

It was the second incident that the adoptive mother testified about Wednesday.

In June 2015, she was helping coordinate appointments for the church’s pictorial directory in the parish hall, she said. Her daughter was in the gym playing when Kallal came to get his picture taken. Kallal heard the sound of a basketball bouncing and asked who was in the gym, the woman testified.

When she responded that it was her daughter, Kallal made a “bee line” to the gym, the woman testified. Shortly thereafter, she heard her daughter scream.

Her daughter came “flying out” the gym door with Kallal right behind her. The girl ran into the women’s restroom, where she tried to lock herself into a stall, the woman testified. Kallal followed her in. He then came out carrying the girl with his arms wrapped around her.

When the woman saw that, she told Kallal to put her daughter down — that it was inappropriate to do that, she testified. She had to say that about three times before he put the girl down, she said.

“She was scared,” the woman said.

The woman testified that she was mortified and shell-shocked at what happened. She didn’t know what what to do.

The woman clutched a rosary for comfort and strength during her testimony. She said the fact that Kallal was a priest also affected how she responded. She was a “cradle Catholic” and raised to hold priests in higher regard, she said.

She said she found herself on the one hand having to protect her daughter and on the other hand betraying a priest whom she knew.

The trial was scheduled to continue this week.

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Robert A. Cronkleton gets up very early in the morning to bring readers breaking news about crime, transportation and weather at the crack of dawn. He’s been at The Star since 1987 and now contributes data reporting and video editing.