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Diocese lists 29 'credibly accused'

Diocese lists 29 'credibly accused'

November 9th, 2018 by Phillip Sitter in Local News

Bishop W. Shawn McNight, of the Diocese of Jefferson City, speaks during a press conference Thursday at the Catholic Diocesan Chancery in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Photo by Sally Ince /News Tribune.

Twenty-nine Catholic priests and religious brothers who have formerly served in the Diocese of Jefferson City have been "credibly accused" of sexually abusing an unknown total number children since the diocese's establishment in 1956, according to Bishop Shawn McKnight.

Credible for the diocese means an allegation of abuse is more likely true than not, based on the available information.

Another four clergy who were not credibly accused but also nonetheless found "to be unsuitable for ministry out of concern for the safety of our youth" have also been removed from service — bringing the total number of clergy publicly named by McKnight on Thursday to 33.

McKnight led a news conference at the diocesan offices on Main Street in Jefferson City on Thursday afternoon to release that and other information, after the conference had been announced earlier that morning.

The announcement for the conference said McKnight would provide the list as "an update to the public on work to bring greater transparency and healing for the Diocese of Jefferson City."

McKnight read a 21/2-page statement — available on the diocesan website — and took questions from local media outlets. The named clergy were listed on separate sheets of paper included in an information packet:

Hugh Behan, Diocese of Jefferson City, removed from ministry

Kevin Clohessy, Diocese of Jefferson City, removed from ministry

Manus Daly, Diocese of Jefferson City, removed from ministry

John B. DeAngelis, Diocese of Jefferson City, deceased (1989)

John Degnan, Diocese of Jefferson City, deceased (2010)

Brendan Doyle, Diocese of Jefferson City, removed from ministry

Thomas Duggan, Diocese of Jefferson City, deceased (2009)

Stephen Faletti, Diocese of Jefferson City, deceased (2017)

John Fischer, Diocese of Jefferson City, removed from ministry

Gerald Howard/Carmen Sita, Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, imprisoned

John Long, Diocese of Jefferson City, removed from ministry

Patrick McMyler, Diocese of Jefferson City, deceased (1985)

James McNally, Diocese of Jefferson City, laicized — which means removing rights to exercise functions of an ordained minister. "It's not exactly accurate to say 'defrocked,' but that's a pretty close approximation," McKnight said, adding once laicized, a former priest is no longer under the diocese's supervision

James Mohan, Diocese of Jefferson City, deceased (1990)

Silas Musholt, Franciscan Friars, deceased (1999)

Anthony O'Connell, Diocese of Jefferson City, deceased (2012)

John Pender, Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, deceased (2009)

Gary Pool, Diocese of Jefferson City, laicized

John Schutty, Diocese of Jefferson City, removed from ministry

Robert Scobee, Diocese of Jefferson City, deceased (1979)

Thomas Seifner, Diocese of Jefferson City, removed from ministry

Sean Smyth, Diocese of Jefferson City, deceased (1990)

Timothy Tatro, Diocese of Jefferson City, removed from ministry

Donald Wallace, Diocese of Jefferson City, removed from ministry

Frank Westhoff, Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, deceased (2006)

John Whiteley, Diocese of Jefferson City, removed from ministry

Bro. Dominic Nixon, Presentation Brothers, removed from ministry in the diocese

Bro. Eric Lucas, Presentation Brothers, removed from ministry in the diocese

Bro. Jude Collins, Presentation Brothers, deceased (2000)

Clergy who have served in the Diocese of Jefferson City but were found by the bishop to be unsuitable for ministry out of concern for the safety of children included:

David Buescher, Diocese of Jefferson City, deceased (2013)

Robert Duesdieker, Diocese of Jefferson City, removed from ministry

Deusdedit Mulokozi, Society of the Precious Blood, expelled from the diocese

Eric Schlachter, Diocese of Jefferson City, removed from ministry

"It is with great sorrow that I publish this list. I humbly and sincerely offer my deepest apologies to those who have been abused by clergy and religious. I also offer my condolences to them, their families, friends and communities," McKnight read.

David Clohessy, St. Louis director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, called the list "irresponsibly and painfully short on details," according to the Associated Press.

McKnight "should reveal where each of these men worked, when they were accused, when those allegations were deemed credible, why the years of secrecy, and where the men are now," Clohessy said in a statement given to the AP.

Clohessy sued the Diocese of Jefferson City in 1991, claiming the Rev. John Whiteley, of St. Pius X Catholic Church in Moberly, abused him in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when he was 12-16 years old. The case went to the state Supreme Court, but the statute of limitations had passed. In 2015, Clohessy said he had received a check from the church for $40,000 but had to promise never to sue the church again. Then-Bishop John Gaydos said in a news release at the time the church had extended an apology to Clohessy and gave him a check for an undisclosed amount to help him in the healing process.

Kevin Clohessy is David's brother.

McKnight did not know Thursday how many children or then-children had been victimized by the clergy whose names are listed. "I don't have that figure, because it's very hard to determine. Many (accused perpetrators) have multiple victims, and not all of them have come forward," he said.

The 29 priests and religious brothers credibly accused have been alleged with sexual offenses against children a collective 59 times from 1956-2014, according to a released chart that shows the number of "priests or brothers with alleged offenses reported(,) occurring or beginning during each five-year period in the Diocese of Jefferson City."

"As of today, there has not ever been a credible accusation of sexual abuse of a minor against any clergy or religious now serving in the Diocese of Jefferson City," McKnight said.

He added, since his announcement in August, he intended to release the names published Thursday, "we have received 18 more allegations of abuse, all of which are reported to have occurred decades ago."

He said the list released Thursday would be updated if other credible allegations are determined, as "some of the investigations into these recent allegations are ongoing."

"Many priests serve over a variety of different places, and I think it would be misleading to report where an accusation came from. We want to open it up in terms of anybody in the diocese or anyone who has information about these priests to come forward," McKnight responded to a reporter's question as to why the parishes where the named clergy served were not specified in the information released Thursday, adding respect for the victims was another consideration.

"Many of them have asked me specifically not to reveal that kind of information," he said, for their own sake or their families.

All credibly alleged incidents of sexual abuse in the diocese after 1997 were non-physical, according to information released — "one being the inappropriate use of social media; and the other, internet pornography depicting minors," McKnight said.

One of those incidents happened between 2000-04, and the other, between 2010-14.

The bulk of credible allegations stem from between the mid-1970s to the late 1980s. Twenty priests or brothers were alleged of sexual offenses against children between 1980-89 — 10 each in the two five-year periods of that decade — with another nine clergy men accused of offenses between 1975-79.

The number of credible allegations of sexual abuse between 1970-74 totaled four, and five between 1990-94. There were eight priests or brothers alleged of offenses between 1965-69.

The median year of birth of the accused or removed clergy and brothers in the diocese is 1938, and the median year of ordination is 1964.

Helen Osman, the diocese's director of communications, relayed no clergy from the diocese have been criminally charged, beyond Gerald Howard or Carmen Sita, who had already been convicted.

"Some of them have been investigated, but for whatever reason, law enforcement has chosen not to pursue their cases," McKnight said.

"Of course, as you know, that doesn't mean they're not guilty, and that's where the Church has to step in and do what we can out of concern for safe environment that we want for our Church and for society," he added.

The information released Thursday by the diocese was compiled "after an independent review of the files of our living priests, deacons and seminarians, and an internal review of the files of our deceased clergy," McKnight said.

Osman said in an email the independent review by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley's office that McKnight requested in August is still ongoing. The independent review McKnight referenced was by a team of three former FBI agents and a colonel from the Illinois State Police, she said.

McKnight requested Hawley's assistance after Hawley had announced the start of an independent investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members in the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis. That decision came after a Pennsylvania grand jury report was released detailing allegations of clergy abuse there — with a former Diocese of Jefferson City priest, John "Jack" Pender, named in that report and in Thursday's list of clergy.

The human and financial costs in the Diocese of Jefferson City of clergy abuse have continued for decades.

McKnight shared that since July 1, 2003, the diocese has spent $4.7 million — which he said is a large amount for a small diocese like Jefferson City's — on abuse cases, adding the diocese publicly reported in January 2004 that $1.5 million had been spent on cases between 1956 and June 30, 2003.

"Because we have generous donors who understand our preferential option for survivors of abuse, we have not used any money donated in parish offertory collections or do the diocesan annual appeal for the care of survivors or legal fees. For the care of survivors, we spent approximately $2.3 million, and we spent approximately $300,000 in legal fees," McKnight said, adding funds from the sale of the diocesan minor seminary, other dioceses and religious orders and insurance have also helped cover the costs.

McKnight also pointed out that the diocese has financially supported clergy who have been removed from ministry.

He said "those clergy who have harmed people by sexual abuse should live lives of prayer and penance. Our support of them must be done in the context of minimal sustenance. Approximately $2.1 million was spent on the care of our credibly accused diocesan priests. Our diocesan infirm priest fund provided $1.8 million and $300,000 from our Community Reconciliation Fund."

A decree from the bishop's office dated Aug. 31, 2018, and signed by McKnight shows that, according to the policy concerning pay for priests determined to be unfit for ministry due to misconduct, "the priest will be required immediately to seek gainful employment. He will be eligible to receive up to his normal salary and benefits for one month from the end of the canonical process, including any appeals.

"For the second month, if no employment has been found, he will receive up to two-thirds of his salary and full benefits. For the third month, if no employment has been found, he will receive up to one-third of his salary and full benefits. Following the end of the third month, the priest will no longer be eligible to receive any salary or benefits. However, if no employment has been found after three months, the removed priest will receive sustenance only, which will be determined by the Bishop.

"A monthly written report regarding employment and income must be submitted in a timely fashion by the priest removed from ministry to the Bishop before receiving his monthly income from the Diocese; otherwise, compensation and benefits will cease immediately. At any time, any compensation or benefits from employment gained by the removed priest will be deducted from his salary and benefits provided by the Diocese."

The document adds that a priest who has completed 20 years of active ministry "in good standing" will receive the benefit of the "Priest Mutual Benefit Society."

Five priests credibly accused — Hugh Behan, Manus Daly, Brendan Doyle, John Long and John Schutty — and another who merited enough concern to be deemed unsuitable for ministry — Robert Duesdieker — were still listed as retired, though without any parish or work assignments, in the "Our Priests" section of the diocese's website, as of Thursday morning.

Osman said in an email those listings were a mistake, and clarified that, "While these men are still priests, technically — in other words, they are not laicized — they cannot function as a priest or present themselves as a priest. Therefore, they shouldn't be on our website."

"We have been reporting the removal of clergy for a while, at the time they were being removed, but this is the first time we've issued a comprehensive list," Osman wrote of why Thursday's allegations had not been made public sooner, given they came from reviews of existing diocesan files.

"We weren't consistent over the years, especially for the time you are citing, the 1990s or earlier, in announcing why a priest was removed. Sometimes they were quietly retired. But in recent years, we have announced they were removed due to credible allegations," she added of whether the reason for a priest's removal had always been shared with the public.

With Thursday's release of information, McKnight said he hoped other victims who have not yet come forward would do so and be able to find healing.

"We want to provide care for those who have been harmed. Today, we are publishing what we know. If you have further information about any priest, deacon or religious brother or sister, please contact the appropriate civil authorities. You may also contact our Victims Assistance Coordinator, Nancy Hoey," he said.

Nancy Hoey — "a licensed professional counselor and a certified clinical trauma professional" — can be reached at reportabuse@diojeffcity.org or 573-694-3199.

The Diocese of Jefferson City has also listed other victim resources:

Mike Berendzen is the diocese's coordinator of Child and Youth Protection and can be reached at 573-635-9127 ext. 224 or mberendzen@diojeffcity.org.

The Missouri Child Abuse & Neglect Hotline is 1-800-392-3738.

The Missouri Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline is 1-800-392-0210.

The state attorney general's office also has an online form to report clergy abuse at ago.mo.gov/other-resources/clergy-abuse-resources/clergy-abuse-victim-resource-form.