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Victim Advocacy Group Calls On The Kansas City Diocese To List All Priests Accused Of Sex Abuse

Jodi Fortino
KCUR 89.3
David Clohessy, former executive director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, writes the names of priests left out of the Kansas City diocese's list in front of their headquarters.

The Catholic Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph said that it does not duplicate publicly listed names of “credibly accused” priests, but victim advocates say that’s not enough.

A victim advocacy group says the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph failed to include the names of nearly 20 priests in its list of “credibly accused” sexual abusers.

Members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests went to the diocese's headquarters on Wednesday to write the names of the priests that were all at one point tied to Kansas City, Missouri.

The group said that while Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. had not included the priests on his list of accused clergy, they can be found on lists of institutions elsewhere.

Former SNAP executive director David Clohessy said it was important for the local diocese to include all of the names on its list.

Jodi Fortino
KCUR 89.3
Longtime SNAP members, David Biersmith, Tom White, and David Clohessy hold up signs listing the accused priests' names.

“Parents and police and prosecutors can best protect children from predators if they know who the predators are,” Clohessy said. “And sadly, Bishop Johnston does know who the predators are. And yet he continues to hide their names, their work histories and their whereabouts.”

The group said they wanted to reveal the names of two accused priests that they deemed “virtually unknown” in the area despite having spent time in Kansas City.

According to SNAP, Fr. John M. Fiala pleaded guilty in Texas in 2014 to charges of raping a boy at gunpoint. He pled guilty in 2012 to charges of hiring a hitman to kill the victim.

The group also said that Fr. Julian Raymond Hartig had been credibly accused by three other church institutions.

SNAP also named other clerics that it considers “under the radar.” These priests are listed as ‘credibly accused’ abusers on at least one church website in other states or dioceses, but not on Johnston’s list.

The priests, SNAP said, include Vincent Barsch, Bede Parry, Edgar Probstfield, Regis Probstfield, Gilbert Stack, Hugh Tasch, Paschal Thomas and Isaac True of the Benedictine order. The Jesuit order includes Donald Redmond, Lawrence Gregovich, Martin Juarez, Paul Pilgram, Burton J. Fraser, Chester Gaiter, Dennis Kirchoff, Philip Kraus and Francis Kegel.

The group also announced that the Kansas City - St. Joseph diocese had recently paid a settlement regarding a case involving Fr. Thomas M. Reardon, who SNAP called “the most prolific living Missouri predator priest.”

SNAP said that David Ford testified Reardon had sexually abused him in the late 1970s and that Ford had disclosed his abuse to Catholic officials at least four times.

In an email on Wednesday, Diocese spokesperson Ashlie Hand said that it does not duplicate names that are included on lists made public by other institutions.

She said the bottom of their list includes links to those from the dioceses of Springfield and Jefferson City, Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, Conception Abbey and the Jesuits of U.S. Central and Southern Province.

Hand said that these additional lists include all but one of the priests named by SNAP.

Clohessy said that including links to other institutions is not enough.

“If the bishop genuinely wants to protect kids, and genuinely wants to help victims, he'll put out information prominently and permanently and easy to find,” Clohessy said.

According to the diocese, Hartig was not included in the list because he was assigned as pastor at St. Mary’s Parish in Higginsville, MO, between 1926-29, before the establishment of the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph.

Hand confirmed that the diocese had settled with David Ford in May 2021.

More than ever, education lies at the intersection of equity, housing, funding, and other diverse issues facing Kansas City’s students, families and teachers. As KCUR’s education reporter, I’ll break down the policies driving these issues in schools and report what’s happening in our region's classrooms. You can reach me at jodifortino@kcur.org.
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