Diocese Releases Ombudsman Report on Child Sex Abuse Allegations

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The ombudsman appointed by the Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic Diocese in the fallout of a priest abuse case says that only a few of the allegations of sexual abuse or inappropriate behavior reported in the last year have been substantiated.

The report from diocese ombudsman Jenifer Valenti says that of those 40 allegations, 20 were reported cases of sexual abuse that involved clergy, diocese employees, religious orders or volunteers, and that only seven of those cases were substantiated, and involved five people.

Click here to read the report (PDF).

Valenti says that in each case, if a crime were committed then law enforcement was notified.

"In the past our members were encouraged to report abuse. But now our members are encouraged to know the warning sings of abuse and know what kind of behaviors are suspicious, and we're asking people to report those so we can be proactive and look into those behaviors," said Valenti.

In a statement on Thursday, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) released a statement in response to the report, saying in part, "Disclosing numbers of predators helps no one. Disclosing the names and whereabouts of predators is what’s needed."

"This report is yet another in a long series of savvy and carefully choreographed public relations moves by a desperate and discredited bishop and his top aides," said SNAP in the statement.

Valenti says that with over 134,000 Catholics in the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, the numbers of abuse are actually lower than the national average.

The two-page report does not include specific information about the allegations or name the people involved. According to Valenti, 16 of the 20 cases of sexual abuse were from over 10 years ago. The report says that two people have been removed from public ministry, employment or volunteer service, and that three of the five people named as sexual abusers are now dead.

Valenti was appointed by diocese Bishop Robert Finn to investigate new charges of abuse in 2011. Finn and the diocese face criminal charges for allegedly covering up information related to Father Shawn Ratigan, who pleaded guilty to child porn charges earlier this month.

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