Crime & Courts

KBI investigating 74 cases of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in Kansas

‘You die on the inside’ — Abuse victims ask for Kansas, Missouri to open grand jury investigations

Kansas City attorney Rebecca Randles and four victims of abuse made a plea for Kansas and Missouri to open grand-jury style investigations similar to the one conducted of Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania.
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Kansas City attorney Rebecca Randles and four victims of abuse made a plea for Kansas and Missouri to open grand-jury style investigations similar to the one conducted of Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania.

Kansas’ top law enforcement agency has launched 74 criminal investigations into Catholic Church leaders in 33 counties, according to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

No arrests have been made, and no charges have been filed.

The investigations originated with a KBI task force that was formed in February to look into sexual abuse of minors by members of the Catholic clergy in Kansas.

At the time, the KBI asked victims to come forward, no matter how long ago the abuse happened.

Since then, the KBI received 119 reports of recent or past sexual abuse committed by clergy members, Melissa Underwood, spokesperson for the KBI, said in a news release.

Underwood provided an update on the investigation and said it is ongoing and likely to be a lengthy investigation. The KBI is still urging victims to come forward, even if they previously reported the incident to law enforcement or the church.

Roman Catholic dioceses across the country have publicly identified more than 1,000 priests determined by the church to have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse.

The release of names comes in the wake of a Pennsylvania grand jury investigation that found nearly 300 “predator priests” and alleged church leaders aided in a cover-up.

At the direction of Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, Kansas opened its own investigation this year. Only two of the state’s four dioceses have released lists of alleged child-molesting priests.

In January, Kansas City’s archdiocese released the names of 22 priests who were credibly accused in the past 75 years.

In March, the Salina Diocese released its list of 14 clergy members with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor on its website and in its diocesan newspaper, The Register.

Many of the clergy members are dead or no longer active in the church, and the allegations of abuse happened so long ago that the statute of limitations has run out.

It’s unclear how many, if any, of those priests are subjects of the KBI investigation.

Wichita and Dodge City dioceses have not released lists of credibly accused priests.

The KBI is asking anyone who has been, or knows someone who has been, a victim of sexual abuse committed by a member of the Catholic clergy to report it by calling 1-800-872-7463 or emailing ClergyAbuse@kbi.ks.gov.

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