Kansas Catholic clergy sexual abuse investigation targets 14 suspects; prosecutions unlikely

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Attorney general releases summary of four-year inquiry on last full day on job

TOPEKA — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s four-year inquiry into alleged child sexual abuse in four Catholic dioceses and a breakaway Catholic sect in the state resulted in referral of 30 cases to county prosecutors targeting 14 members of the clergy, state officials said Friday.

It’s unlikely each of those cases result in criminal charges against alleged abusers because the state eliminated the statute of limitations on certain sex crimes in 2013, but didn’t make the statute retroactive. Historical crimes of rape, indecent liberties with a child or criminal sodomy, like most of the clergy allegations investigated by the KBI, were tied to the statute of limitations at the time of the crime. In most instances, that was set at five years.

“The significance of this is that, absent some other factor or exception to the statute of limitations to consider, the legally allowed time to file criminal charges for most Catholic clergy sexual abuse crimes has passed,” a summary of the KBI inquiry said.

The summary said some of the 14 clergy referred to prosecutors were associated by the KBI to multiple counts of sexual abuse or in different jurisdictions. The KBI report covered a period stretching from 1950 to 2022.

In addition, the KBI report said, the investigation of criminal allegations within a break-off sect of the Catholic Church, the Society of St. Pius X in St. Marys, would continue in Kansas. Members of St. Pius X leadership were previously excommunicated by the Pope.

In November 2018, Attorney General Derek Schmidt asked the KBI to launch an investigation following release of internal files and documents by the Catholic dioceses in Kansas regarding allegations of sexual abuse.

The inquiry led the KBI task force to more than 41,000 pages of documents and creation of the 21-page summary submitted by KBI director Kirk Thompson to the attorney general.

Schmidt, a Republican who lost the 2022 campaign for governor, issued a three-paragraph news release and a copy of the executive summary after 5 p.m. Friday. Schmidt didn’t include a statement characterizing his view on findings of the KBI’s work. His term as attorney general ends at noon Monday. Thompson is scheduled to retire Tuesday.

Thompson’s cover letter to Schmidt said the KBI task force reviewed 224 tips, interviewed 137 people alleging they were victims of abuse, initiated 125 criminal cases and distributed the 30 charging affidavits to local prosecutors regarding 14 clergy. The executive summary didn’t include personally identifiable information about the alleged abusers nor those who made claims against Catholic leadership.

The KBI director said the inquiry also identified 188 clergy “suspected of committing various criminal acts,” including aggravated criminal sodomy, rape, aggravated indecent liberties with a child and aggravated sexual battery.

“It should not go without saying that the abuses revealed during the investigation had a profound effect on the victims, the families of the victims and our task force members,” Thompson said. “Those victims, whose lives have been traumatically affected by what happened to them as a child, have shown hope, strength and perseverance in the face of extreme adversity.”

In Kansas, the Catholic church maintains diocese in Wichita, Salina, Dodge City and Kansas City, Kansas.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: info@kansasreflector.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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