The Diocese of Kansas City–St. Joseph released a report on September 6 in which it lists the long-concealed names of 24 priests who each have credibly been accused of sexually abusing a minor. In connection with the report’s release, Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. proclaimed that “the dreadful scourge of sexual abuse of minors has wounded our entire family of faith.”
He continued, “The release of these names cannot change the past. It is merely a step forward in hope, but a necessary step. All sin is terrible, but the sins of clerics who betray the sacred trust to care for little ones is especially egregious. Jesus himself singled out this betrayal as particularly wicked in the eyes of God. The anger at these sins is fully justified.”
24 priests were named and 19 of them were part of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese. Three others formerly worked in the diocese, but presently work in other diocese jurisdictions. The last two of the 24 previously served in the diocese but were part of other religious orders.
Of the priests named in the September 6 report, 13 of them are deceased; four have been dismissed from the clergy through a process known as laicized, and two were totally and permanently removed from ministry. One of the laicized priests, Shawn Ratigan, is now housed in federal prison after being convicted of child pornography. Johnston explained, “With the one significant exception of former Father Shawn Ratigan, the substantiated allegations were found to have occurred prior to 1990.”
List of Names
The list was shared with Missouri’s attorney general, and it covers a time frame of 1956 to the present. The majority of priests had multiple substantiated allegations against them. Here is the list of abusive diocesan priests that were named:
- Robert Cameron
- James Ahern
- James Ford
- Robert Deming
- Sylvester Hoppe
- John Giacopelli
- Francis McGlynn
- Joseph Jakubowski
- Thomas O’Brien
- Thomas Ward
- John Tulipana
- Jerry Wegenek
- Thomas Waterman
Removed permanently from ministry:
- Michael Tierney
- Michael Brewer
- Thomas Reardon
- Stephen Wise
- Hugh Monahan
The names of the three priests whose sexual allegations stem from the time they spent in ministry at the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, but who are currently under authority at other dioceses are:
- Bishop Joseph V. Sullivan, now deceased, of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Mark Honhart, permanently removed from ministry, of the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania
- Bishop Joseph Hart, who was a priest in Kansas City, then became the Bishop of Cheyenne in Wyoming. He is currently under criminal investigation for sexual abuse in Cheyenne.
Two priests from other religious orders who assisted in the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese and those who face substantiated accusations stemming from their time at the diocese are:
- James Urbanic, permanently removed from ministry, of the Society of the Precious Blood.
- Philip Coury, permanently removed from ministry, of the Vincentian order.
The following three priests previously served in the diocese and were deemed by the bishop as “unsuitable for ministry out of concern for the safety of our youth.” These priests are:
- Stephen Muth, removed from ministry, of the Eparchy of Parma
- Michael Rice, now retired, but formerly a diocesan priest
- Thomas Cronin, retired, who was also a diocesan priest
Legal settlements name three other clergy members, but there has been no church or civil process substantiating their cases. The three are:
- James Lawbaugh
- John Baskett
- Brother Earl Johnson
The names of four additional accused priests have already been released by dioceses in Missouri. All four of these priests are deceased:
- John DeAngelis of the Diocese of Jefferson City
- Mark Ernstmann of the Diocese of Jefferson City
- John Rynish of the Diocese of Jefferson City
- Eugene Deragowski of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau
More than half of all U.S. Catholic dioceses, as well as numerous religious orders, have now released the names of priests who have substantiated abuse allegations against them. A number of priests whose names appear on the list released by the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese have been at the center of church sexual abuse lawsuits filed against the diocese for the past two decades. Many settlements have come from these lawsuits, with one in 2008 totaling $10 million and a second one for $10 million in 2014.
Missouri Investigation Prompted by PA Grand Jury Report
Missouri’s then-Attorney General Josh Hawley began conducting a “thorough and robust investigation” into his state’s Archdiocese of St. Louis shortly after a grand jury in Pennsylvania delivered a report in August 2018. The report found that Catholic church leaders had covered and hidden sexual abuse by hundreds of their clergy members for more than 70 years.
In November, Hawley was elected as a U.S. Senator. Eric Schmitt, his successor, is purportedly continuing the investigation. However, some sexual abuse victims and the advocates who represent them say the attorney general’s office isn’t doing enough to finalize the investigation.
Advocate Calls Lengthy Identity Concealment Reckless
David Clohessy, the former director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said, “It’s reckless and callous for Bishop Johnston to have hidden these names for so long, releasing them when it’s convenient for him, instead of immediately when the allegations are made or deemed credible.” He continued, “There’s no excuse for hiding a likely predator’s name for any length of time. In fact, every day a known or suspected abuser’s identity is concealed, more kids are needlessly at risk. It’s irresponsible to keep silent about a potentially dangerous child molester – or even a deceased one – and wait to disclose this knowledge in groups or bunches when it suits an employer’s public relations needs.”
An Attorney Weighs In
Kansas City attorney Rebecca Randles has been the legal representative for hundreds of abuse victims who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of clergy. She welcomes the release of the predators’ names.
“Any time a perpetrator is exposed to the public so children can be protected, that’s a good step,” Randles commented. “But we’ve been exposing these perpetrators through lawsuits since 2003, and there have been others filed before that. The big question is, why did they wait so long?”
Kansas Opens Investigation
In February, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) began investigating reports of sexual abuse in the four Kansas Catholic dioceses by convening six special agents to create an internal task force. Derek Schmidt, the Kansas attorney general, called for an investigation to ascertain whether any of the abuse cases in his state should be prosecuted.
Five months later in July, the KBI began 74 investigations into alleged sexual abuse and misconduct by Catholic clergy. The KBI started its investigations after receiving 119 victim reports involving 33 of the state’s 105 counties.
All of this KBI activity started after the Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas supplied a list of 22 names of priests who have had valid allegations lodged against them of sexually abusing minors over the past 75 years. Per Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, “Each name represents a betrayal of trust and a violation of the innocent.” His statement was released in the archdiocesan newspaper called The Leaven.
Speak With a Church Sexual Abuse Lawyer
KBA Attorneys offers professional legal representation to victims of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church. Senior Partner at KBA Attorneys, Brian Ketterer, has years of experience in handling sexual abuse cases and has found that the criminal justice system doesn’t always award defendants the full compensation that they deserve. By working with a knowledgeable sexual abuse lawyer, you can fight for the justice that is deserved.
Our lawyers will investigate and perform in-depth research on your case. Not only is the priest who committed the crime liable, but the church itself may also be responsible for not stopping or preventing abuse from occurring.
Call 85-281-2571 or fill out an online form for a free sexual abuse case consultation.
- Judy Thomas. “Kansas City diocese names priests in ‘the dreadful scourge of sexual abuse of minors”, The Kansas City Star, https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article234792262.html. Accessed September 16, 2019.