Statement from the Diocese
Today, the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph was informed that the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is publicizing the filing of a civil lawsuit by Joe Eldred alleging sexual abuse by three priests in the early 1980s. The SNAP media release states that the diocese knew of the abuse and took action to cover-up wrongdoing. Over the past 27 years, neither Joe Eldred nor anyone acting on his behalf ever made contact with the diocese to report the abuse.
Regarding Father Mark Honhart
Born in Pennsylvania, Father Mark Honhart entered a religious community and was ordained for the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity in 1980. With the approval of his superiors, he requested and was assigned to parish ministry in the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph. He served in six parishes – Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Independence; Holy Cross and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, in Kansas City; St. Patrick, in St. Joseph; Immaculate Conception, in Richmond; and, St. Rose of Lima, in Savannah.
In 2001, Father Honhart requested permission to move to New Mexico to care for his 90-year-old mother. Over the next two years, he cared for his mother and was appointed by parish ministry by the Diocese of Albuquerque. When his mother returned to Pennsylvania in 2003, Father Honhart requested permission to become a member of the clergy of the Diocese of Scranton. Over the 21-year period of Father Honhart’s ministry in the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph, there were no complaints of sexual misconduct brought to the attention of his superiors.
Regarding Thomas J. O’Brien
Thomas O’Brien was ordained in 1950 and retired from parish ministry in 1984. In 1983, the diocese received a complaint accusing O’Brien of sexual misconduct. O’Brien’s file contains four subsequent similar complaints from this time period. Although O’Brien denied the allegation, Bishop John J. Sullivan removed him from parish ministry and required him to undergo psychological in-patient evaluation and treatment. Bishop Sullivan retired in 1993 and died in 2001.
In 2002, the U.S. Bishops adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. In July 2002, Bishop Raymond J. Boland informed O’Brien that he could not present himself as a priest and was permanently barred from any form of ministry.
Regarding Thomas M. Reardon
Thomas Reardon was ordained in 1967. Over the next 22 years, served in five parishes. He left ministry in 1989 and, since that time, has not functioned as a Roman Catholic priest or served in any capacity for the diocese. Currently, he is the subject of a process for laicization from the clerical state through church courts.
Making a Confidential Report Concerning the Sexual Abuse of a Minor
Through a public liaison and ombudsman, the diocese has made in known that it ill respond to all allegations of the abuse. Reports are received in confidence, investigated thoroughly, and reported to law enforcement. To ensure that the diocese has lay involvement in resolving complaints, the ombudsman meets with an Independent Review Board comprised of lay professionals. The board has responsibility for making recommendations to Bishop Finn concerning continued the suitability for ministry or employment of any person accused of wrongful conduct. The ombudsman can be reached at (816) 812-2500.
Statement from SNAP:
In a new civil child sex abuse and cover up lawsuit, Eldred charges that he was sexually abused as a child by three KC area Catholic priests Thomas M. Reardon, Msgr. Thomas J. O’Brien and Fr. Mark E. Honhart. At the time of the abuse, Eldred was between nine and 12 years old. The abuse largely took place at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish in Independence and at Lake Viking, northeast of Kansas City, at a cabin where several priests took dozens of boys over years and sexually violated most of them.
From roughly 1980 – 1984, the suit says, Honhart and O’Brien sexually abused Elred. Honhart performed oral sex on him in the rectory basement and garage and in Honhart’s car. O’Brien gave Eldred marijuana, alcohol and pornography and made him “engage in oral and anal sex” in the rectory, the sacristy, the confessional and in O’Brien’s vehicle.” The suit also says that O’Brien forced Eldred “to perform oral sex and other sexual acts with other young boys” while O’Brien watched.
Between 1981 and 1984, O’Brien took Eldred to Lake Viking with Father Thomas Reardon and there engaged in inappropriate behavior including gaing the boy “drugs, alcohol, marijuana, and abusing him “in the car and at the lake house.” O’Brien told Eldred that “if he ever told of any of the acts perpetrated upon him, that he (Eldred) would be kicked out of the church, abandoned by his family and would go straight to hell.”
As a child, after the abuse, Eldred repeatedly attempted suicide.
Honhart was ordained in 1980, Reardon was ordained in 1967 and O’Brien was ordained in 1950. All are believed to be priests, even now. Reardon and O’Brien are believed to be living in KC. Honhart is in Pennsylvania.
Photos of Honhart and Reardon are available at BishopAccountability.org
In several other suits, Reardon and O’Brien are accused of molesting the same children. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2007/11_12/2007_11_24_Thomas_LawsuitsAlleging.htm
Eldred is now 40 years old, married, and works for a non-profit agency that helps at-risk kids.