Washington – An investigative report into sexual assault and child abuse weighs heavily on the Catholic Church in the US state of Kansas. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) report said church officials downplayed child rape by priests, protected perpetrators, and even continued to fund them. In suspected cases, the authorities were not informed; instead, they themselves have examined very poorly.
The investigation, released by the Kansas Attorney General, found the Church to have “a chronic pattern of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.” When viewed “objectively,” there were practices “aimed at obscuring the truth about what happened,” the report says. Church officials tended to use language that downplayed “the seriousness of the acts and abuse.” The church representatives, for example, described “rape” as “inappropriate contact”.
Attorney General Derek Schmidt commissioned the investigation in late 2018 after the Catholic dioceses in Kansas released documents alleging abuse. The results, summarized on 25 pages, include allegations from the past 50 years. According to the KBI, it viewed more than 40,000 pages of documents and interviewed 137 victims. 125 criminal proceedings have now been initiated.
The report identifies 188 clergymen suspected of criminally relevant sexual acts. The Archdiocese of Kansas City thanked the prosecutor and the KBI for their investigative work. At the same time, Archbishop Joseph Naumann apologized to the victims, their families and church members on behalf of all bishops of Kansas.