Two former Diocese of Jefferson City priests dismissed

Bishop Shawn McKnight is seated for an interview Monday, Nov. 19, 2018, at the Jefferson City Diocese Chancery.
Bishop Shawn McKnight is seated for an interview Monday, Nov. 19, 2018, at the Jefferson City Diocese Chancery.

Two men who are on the Diocese of Jefferson City's list of priests who were credibly accused of clergy abuse have been laicized, or dismissed from being priests.

Robert Duesdieker was ordained in 1980 and Mel Lahr in 1972. The changes came at the conclusion of a canonical process that included an independent internal review of diocese files, consultation of the Diocesan Review Board and an appeal to the Holy See for a formal decision, Bishop W. Shawn McKnight said in a statement.

"These changes are the direct result of the responses to the initial publication of a list of credibly accused clergy in November 2018," McKnight said. "Because of this transparency, survivors of clerical abuse and their families felt safe to come forward and share their pain, several for the first time in decades."

The victims' courage allowed McKnight to follow the church's process and have the men permanently removed from the clerical state, he said.

"For too many survivors of sexual abuse, the pain of abuse is still present in their lives," McKnight said. "The announcement of this updated list is another effort to assure survivors that they are being heard and that their healing is a top priority for me."

Within the statement, McKnight said the diocese added John C. Condit to the list of credibly accused in the diocese.

There have been no allegations of abuse by Condit in the Diocese of Jefferson City.

But, late last month, the Archdiocese of St. Louis informed the Jefferson City diocese it had found substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct involving minors by Condit.

The alleged incidents occurred, according the statement, while Condit served as a military chaplain overseas and as a priest of the archdiocese. Condit went to the Diocese of Jefferson City in 1973 and served there until his death in 1994.

He served in Taos, Boonville, Fayette and Bahner.

If anyone is aware of any inappropriate behavior toward children or vulnerable adults, they are asked to contact the appropriate Missouri state hotline; the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, 1-800-392-738; or the Missouri Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline, 1-800-392-1210. Abuse by a member of the clergy should also be reported to the Missouri Attorney General's Office at 573-751-8791.

Please contact the Diocese of Jefferson City's victim assistance coordinator, Nancy Hoey, at [email protected] or 573-694-3199.

"I pray this effort on our part provides some small measure of hope and opens an opportunity for healing to those immediately harmed by sexual abuse," McKnight said in his statement. "We are building momentum in ensuring our parishes are places where people can not only be safe from harm, but be centers of charity and mercy, places of growth in the Christian life."

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