6 former Jesuit teachers with Kansas City metro ties accused of sex assault

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Old allegations are coming to light after the Jesuits released names of former priests, leaders and teachers with, what they are calling, credible accusations of sexual assault against them.

The release includes six instructors serving between Rockhurst High School and Rockhurst University between the 1940s and 1990s.

The Jesuits of the USA Central and Southern Province are treating this as a push towards transparency by the Jesuit community.

Five instructors served at Rockhurst High School and one at Rockhurst University:

Francis J. Kegel, SJ

  • Birth: 1919
  • Ordination: N/A
  • Status of individual: Left Society of Jesus 1953; deceased 2009
  • Estimated time frame of abuse: 1940s
  • Removed from ministry: N/A – already left Society of Jesus when allegation received
  • Pastoral assignments:
    • St. Louis University High School, St. Louis
    • Rockhurst High School, Kansas City, Mo.

Dennis P. Kirchoff, SJ

  • Birth: 1955
  • Ordination: 1987
  • Status of individual: Left Society of Jesus 1995
  • Estimated time frame of abuse: 1990s
  • Removed from ministry: 1991
  • Pastoral assignments:
    • Rockhurst High School, Kansas City, Mo.
    • St. Louis University High School, St. Louis

Chester E. Gaiter, SJ

  • Birth: 1939
  • Ordination: 1976
  • Status of individual: Deceased 2010
  • Estimated time frame of abuse: 1970s - 1980s
  • Removed from ministry: N/A – infirm at time of allegations
  • Pastoral assignments:
    • Rockhurst High School, Kansas City, Mo.
    • St. Matthew's Parish, St. Louis
    • Cardinal Ritter High School, St. Louis
    • St. Joseph's Parish, East St. Louis, Ill.
    • Jesuit Hall Community, St. Louis
    • Fusz Pavilion Jesuit Community, St. Louis

Paul C. Pilgram, SJ

  • Birth: 1939
  • Ordination: 1970
  • Status of individual: Removed from ministry and lives under supervision
  • Estimated time frame of abuse: 1970s – 1990s
  • Removed from ministry: Restricted from ministry with minors 1991; removed from ministry 2003
  • Pastoral Assignments:
    • St. Stephen's Mission, St. Stephen's, Wyo.
    • St. Louis University High School, St. Louis
    • Regis Jesuit High School, Centennial, Colo.
    • Rockhurst High School, Kansas City, Mo.
    • Fusz Pavilion Jesuit Community, St. Louis
    • White House Jesuit Retreat Office, St. Louis

Burton J. Fraser, SJ
(Originally a member of the Missouri Province, became a member of the Wisconsin Province when it was created in 1955)

  • Birth: 1899
  • Ordination: 1935
  • Status of individual: Deceased 1971
  • Estimated time frame of abuse: 1950s (while still a member of the Missouri Province)
  • Removed from ministry: N/A – deceased when allegation received
  • Pastoral assignments:
    • Rockhurst High School, Kansas City, Mo.
    • St. Mary’s College, St. Marys, Kansas
    • St. Francis Mission, St. Francis, S.D.
    • Sacred Heart Parish, Denver
    • Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisc.
    • Chaplain, U.S. Military
    • Mt. Carmel, Pueblo, Colo.
    • Creighton University, Omaha, Neb.

Philip D. Kraus, SJ

  • Birth: 1941
  • Ordination: 1975
  • Status of individual: Removed from ministry and lives under supervision
  • Estimated time frame of abuse: 1970s
  • Removed from ministry: Restricted from ministry with minors 1996; removed from ministry 2003
  • Pastoral assignments:
    • St. Louis University High School, St. Louis
    • Regis Jesuit High School, Aurora, Colo.
    • St. Francis Xavier Parish, Kansas City, Mo.
    • Rockhurst University, Kansas City, Mo.
    • White House Jesuit Retreat Office, St. Louis
    • Catholic Social Services, Peoria, Ill.
    • Sacred Heart Retreat House, Alhambra, Calif.
    • Jesuit Hall Community, St. Louis

Rockhurst High School released a note on each accused instructor that served at the school. They said Francis Kegel and Paul Pilgram were the only ones to be accused of abuse while they served at RHS.

Kegel served in the 1940s at Rockhurst, and left before allegations surfaced. Pilgram was at the school in the late 1970s, and was removed from serving with minors in 1991. Rockhurst said it learned of the first allegation against Pilgram in 2002.

The high school released a statement regarding the allegations:

"On December 7, 2018 the United States Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus released the names of Jesuits who ever belonged to the Province or served in any ministry within the Province against whom 'credible claims of sexual abuse of a minor have been made.' Five of these Jesuits were assigned to Rockhurst High School at some point in their ministry. The last year in which any of these five individuals served at Rockhurst was 1984.

"All three reports of alleged misconduct related to any Jesuit’s time at Rockhurst were immediately reported to the Province. No Jesuit with a credible accusation currently serves in public ministry.

"Rockhurst High School prays for all victims of sexual abuse and their families."

Phillip Kraus of Rockhurst University is the sixth man accused. It's unclear if the alleged abuse happened at the university, but the report said the alleged abuse happened during the 1970s.

Kraus was restricted from working with minors in 1996, and removed from the ministry in 2003. He is currently in his late 70s and lives under supervision according to the report.

The university declined an on-camera interview, but issued a statement regarding the release:

"We support the Jesuit province’s decision to release the names of members with credible allegations of sexual abuse against minors and vulnerable adults. We believe transparency is the best way to rebuild damaged trust. We offer prayers of support for all who have suffered as a result of sexual abuse by members of the clergy. Following is the message we sent to our campus community."

Kraus also served at the St. Francis Xavier Parish. The church declined to comment on the allegations.

Carrie Cooper, the director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection with the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, said while the Jesuits are a separate institution, she believes the Catholic church is doing it's best to stop abuses before they start and bring them to light.

"The more that we can bring this issue to a conversation to where people understand it, and they understand what to watch for," Cooper said. "I believe education about it, and reporting about it, can help prevent it from happening in the future."

All six of the men are either no longer active in the Jesuits or they are deceased.

Cooper hopes a new generation of leadership can put an end to abuse in the church.

"We hope that through education, through a culture where you can talk about it, and through people gaining confidence that it's being dealt with appropriately," Cooper said. "That would be a wonderful day if people didn't abuse and take advantage of the venerable.

The Jesuits of Central and Southern Provinces said the investigation took three months to complete, and they hope to provide an openness that can be the foundation for a renewed trust.

Find a full list of accused Jesuits through the province here. For a full statement from Fr. Ronald Mercier with the Jesuits of Central and Southern Provinces click/tap here. For a list of frequently asked questions relating to the release visit this site.