Pope tells clergy sex abusers: ‘Hand yourself over to human justice’
The 12 former Catholic priests referred for criminal prosecution by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt were accused of sexual misconduct with minors, some of whom reported years-long abuse.
Schmitt revealed what each priest was accused of in a report he issued Friday, but did not list the names or affiliated dioceses of each priest. All clergy members were referred to by numbers in the report.
“We could not release that information to comply with state and federal law,” said Chris Nuelle, Schmitt’s spokesperson.
Incidences of sexual abuse occurred in all four of Missouri’s Catholic dioceses, according to the report.
Here’s what each of the 12 priests was accused of doing, based on the attorney general’s findings:
▪ A priest was accused in 2009 of “sexual misconduct involving inappropriate electronic communication” with an elementary school-aged child in 2004. The priest was removed from ministry temporarily and later was removed from active ministry. The priest is limited to prayer and penance while the affiliated diocese seeks for the priest to be laicized, which means the priest can no longer offer sacraments.
▪ A priest admitted to abusing and molesting a high-school aged seminarian assigned to the same seminary in 1996. More reports of abusing high-school seminarians were made in 2002, and the priest was removed from the ministry. He retired in 2003 and relocated outside of the Unites States. There was a request from a bishop in Ireland in 2003 and later in 2011 about the priest’s history. In 2004, the additional reports were found to be credible despite the priest’s denial.
▪ A priest reportedly committed “numerous” acts of sexual misconduct, boundary issues and fondling. The diocese first heard of the acts through an anonymous letter in 2010 and reports continued through 2017. Inappropriate actions included sharing a bed with elementary school-aged children, as well as accommodations during overnight stays during field trips. The priest allegedly had 10 unsupervised visits with kids in the rectory. Local police launched an investigation and the diocese is pursuing laicization. The priest has been on leave since 2016.
▪ A priest admitted to abusing minors and having sexual relationships with adults. He abandoned the ministry and is believed to be married. A 2018 audit by the diocese, which triggered laicization proceedings, marks the priest’s whereabouts as unknown.
▪ A priest reportedly abused a victim starting in high school and into adulthood between 1986 and 1993. The abuse began on an overnight trip where the two went to witness a bishop’s ordination. The diocese first received a report of the abuse in 1996, and the priest was removed from the ministry. The priest was voluntarily laicized. In 2005, a second high-school aged child accused the priest of abuse that began in 1995.
▪ A priest engaged in unwanted and inappropriate hugging and kissing of an elementary school-aged child, who had been invited to meet with the priest after receiving the sacrament of confession. The priest was reported in 2015 and was immediately removed from ministry, though later allowed to return. The diocesan review board found his conduct to be a “boundary violation” and not a violation of the Catholic Church’s 2002 charter regarding abuse allegations. Still, the diocese and the priest’s religious order banned him from further ministry. The priest left the country this year.
▪ A priest was removed from the ministry and then returned several times in the 1990s over “boundary” violations against elementary school-aged children, including unwanted touching. A formal investigation by the diocesan review board gave credence to the allegations. The priest was removed from public ministry and allowed to retire, though he may be practicing in Kansas while living in a nursing home.
▪ A priest believed by the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese to be Hugh Monahan was accused of sexually abusing minors prior to 1990. In 1989, the priest left Kansas City without a trace and the first report was filed with the diocese the next year. The diocese did not attempt beyond sending mail to find the priest to discipline him. He was laicized in 2013.
▪ A priest was alleged to have sexually abused minors and was suspended from ministry from 1982 to 1984. He returned to active ministry with limited youth interaction but sexual misconduct was alleged again in 1998. The priest was removed and retired but allegations once again surfaced for conduct between 1968 and 1973. The priest was laicized in 2006.
▪ After a priest retired in 2011, multiple reports of sexual misconduct with minors in the 1960s and 1970s surfaced. One of the victims was high-school aged and the priest apologized to the victim’s father. Another high school-aged victim claimed the priest abused him in 1972 after getting him drunk in the parish rectory.
▪ A priest allegedly “forcibly” abused a high school-aged child in 1992, and the incident was reported in 1996. The priest was placed on temporary leave the next year, but was allowed to serve as a missionary abroad. The priest denied the abuse.
▪ A priest abused a high-school aged child in 1973 while a seminarian. He left seminary studies but was deemed safe to return to the ministry in 1994, though a report of sexual abuse had been lodged a year earlier. In 1997, the priest, who was assigned to high school teaching, was placed on leave because, in violation of his “safety plan,“ he hosted children on an out-of-town trip as the only adult. More allegations of abuse occurring between 1979 and 1995 surfaced between 2002 and 2004. The priest did not return to the ministry after 1997 and was laicized in 2004.
The report also lists the circumstances behind all 163 clergy members in Missouri who were accused of abuse. More than half of the priests are dead, while a quarter engaged in abuse that falls outside of Missouri’s statute of limitations.
Victims are encouraged to report abuse to a clergy abuse hotline maintained by the attorney general’s office by calling 573-751-8791.