KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two new lawsuits have been filed against the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, claiming the diocese covered up abuse by two local Catholic priests.
“My church was completely aware,” a victim’s statement reads.
An interpreter read the statement Tuesday in front of the Kansas City Catholic Diocese headquarters.
“I was taken to him for help,” the victim said. “Unfortunately, help was the furthest thing from his mind.”
The priest in question was Fr. John Tulipana. The victim, who did not want to be identified, said Tulipana sexually, physically and emotionally assaulted him at 13 years old.
The victim said the abuse happened in 1977 while Tulipana was at Coronation of our Lady.
“In this case, Fr. Tulipana was reported time and time and time again, and yet still, he was shuffled from unsuspecting parish after unsuspecting parish,” said David Clohessy, a clergy sex abuse survivor and director of the Missouri chapter or SNAP.
Tulipana resigned in 1994 after several other reports of abuse. He spend time at four different churches in Kansas City, including Holy Trinity, and three more in Grandview, Independence and Clinton.
“One of his victims signed a gag order and got a $150,000 settlement,” Clohessy said.
Tulipana has since died, but Clohessy said a Kansas City priest involved in a different lawsuit is alive but no where to be found.
“Fr. (Darvin) Salazar’s whereabouts are unknown,” Clohessy said.
Salazar is accused of plying a student with alcohol and forcibly sexually molesting, assaulting and raping a young adult.
The victim said it happened two years ago in the rectory of Holy Cross parish in Kansas City.
“We hope that youngsters will be kept away from Fr. Salazar so he can’t hurt anyone else, and we hope that he will be prosecuted,” Clohessy said.
In a statement, the KC Catholic Diocese said in part: “Any allegations against Fr. Salazar following the initial accusation have all been presented to law enforcement, but law enforcement have declined to bring any criminal charges against Fr. Salazar.”
“There have been many instances where police and prosecutors have thrown up their hands in frustration and said with one or two victims there’s not much we can do,” Clohessy said. “And then when they hear from the ninth victim or 19th victim, they can put together a case.”
Salazar remains under suspension and cannot represent himself as a priest or serve in any diocesan ministry.
If you were harmed by either of these men, the KC diocese is offering care and healing resources.