TOPEKA — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation said Tuesday that it has opened dozens of investigations into alleged sex abuse by Catholic clergy after 119 people came forward in recent months saying they were victims.
The KBI called for tips from the public in February and continues to seek information. Agents have launched 74 cases so far in 33 counties.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, praised the news in a statement.
“We are thrilled at today’s announcement,” the group said. “When people speak up, the authorities will listen, and we hope that this news encourages other survivors — both in Kansas and throughout the country — to come forward.”
It’s unclear how long the investigations will take. The KBI said only that the process would be “lengthy.”
SNAP wrote that “we understand that investigations like this take time and we are grateful to officials at the KBI for keeping Kansans informed of their progress.”
The KBI’s dive into allegations of abuse by priests began at Attorney General’s Derek Schmidt’s request in February. The agency hasn’t released details about when or where the alleged crimes took place.
Kansas has four Catholic dioceses. At least two — the Archdiocese of Kansas City Kansas and the Diocese of Salina — published lists this year of more than 30 clergy with “substantiated allegations” of sex abuse.
Both dioceses declined to comment on the KBI’s news.
The Diocese of Dodge City provided a statement saying its bishop, John Brungardt, has met with the KBI assistant director and the investigatory task force.
“The Bishop is cooperating with the task force,” it said, “and the Diocese has engaged an independent auditor who is currently in the process of reviewing all clergy files, past and present.”
The Diocese said it would provide findings to the KBI and Schmidt’s office, and work with its Diocesan Review Board to “determine how best to share those findings with the public.”
That diocese had previously released names of four priests who were the subject of substantiated claims.
The state’s fourth diocese, Wichita, didn’t return a call for comment Tuesday afternoon.
In January, the Diocese of Kansas City Kansas published a report saying it had substantiated claims against 22 clergy for sex crimes against minors committed between the 1940s and the 1990s. Most cases involved multiple allegations.
In March, the Diocese of Salina published a similar list of 14 clergy. Those cases involved substantiated sex abuse against minors from the early 1900s to the past decade.
Anyone who has tips about sexual abuse by clergy that occurred in Kansas can contact the KBI at 1-800-KS-CRIME or ClergyAbuse@kbi.ks.gov. The KBI is seeking information regardless of how long ago the crime took place or whether it was previously reported to any law enforcement.
Celia Llopis-Jepsen reports on consumer health and education for the Kansas News Service. You can follow her on Twitter @Celia_LJ or email her at celia (at) kcur (dot) org. The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on the health and well-being of Kansans, their communities and civic life.
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