Missouri and Kansas authorities need to launch grand jury-style investigations into clergy sexual abuse crimes and cover-ups in the Catholic church similar to the one conducted in Pennsylvania, group people who were victimized by the so-called abuses.
“When we received the grand jury investigation from Pennsylvania, it was shocking and it was saddening,” said Rebecca Randles, who has represented hundreds of victims in priest sexual abuse lawsuits. “And then I sat down to try to figure out, well, how many priests in the Kansas City area, the St. Louis area and KCK had been similarly abusive?”
“We have over 230 priests that we know of that have been sexually abusive in this area,” she said of her accounting of those who have been accused. “And our population centers are much smaller. So it details that there is an even greater issue in the Kansas City, St. Louis, Missouri areas and the Archdiocese of Kansas than what we’re seeing in the grand jury report out of Pennsylvania.”
With those increasing and some were not accounted for, only a handful of priests, she said, have been charged and one bishop punished.
In a news conference, Randles spoke along with four men who said they had been sexually abused by priests in Kansas and Missouri.
All called on both states’ attorneys general as well as local prosecutors to investigate.
“I was in third grade when it started,” said Tom Viviano, who filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of St. Louis in 2016 alleging he was the victim of repeated sexual abuse by a priest who has since died. “It stopped in eighth grade when I moved away.
“I’m now 62 years old,” he said, pausing several times to regain his composure. “And I still live with the pain of what happened to me when I was in grade school. What I’d like to see is a true, open, honest investigation. The church has not come forward. They want to offer up perhaps a prayer or a Mass of forgiveness. It doesn’t help. Doesn’t go far enough. What I’d like to see is a true accountability.”
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said Monday that it was up to local prosecutors to investigate such criminal allegations.
“Missouri law gives the power and responsibility for criminal allegations of this kind to the elected prosecuting attorneys in our various counties,” Hawley said at a news conference in Kansas City, North. “The Attorney General’s office under the law is there to assist those prosecuting attorneys if they so request, and we stand ready to do so.”
Meanwhile, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a statement that her office “has placed a high priority on protecting children from all kinds of abuse.”
She noted that in 2011, the office used a grand jury to investigate a child pornography case against the Rev. Shawn Ratigan in the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese that resulted in the indictment of Bishop Robert Finn for failing to report abuse.
After that, Baker said, the diocese hired an ombudsman who regularly communicates with the prosecutor’s office about abuse allegations.
“We welcome this partnership, but rest assured we won’t stand idle when children are victimized,” Baker said. “We have reviewed and investigated other allegations of abuse by church officials since 2011. Those cases, however, proved to be beyond our reach for criminal charges because the statute of limitations had passed.”
In relation with these reports , Vatican had already invested huge amount, just to settle cases that their priest were involved.
One of the latest priest who allegedly molested three teenagers were a Filipino priest and a Dallas resident pastor named Rev. Paredes, who fled after being under investigation.