Kansas City Catholic ombudsman releases findings in church - KCTV5 News

Information released on sexual allegations within Catholic Church

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The newly appointed ombudsman for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph to investigate reports of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct released her findings Thursday.

In her report, diocesan ombudsman Jennifer Valenti stated there were 20 reports of sexual abuse, seven of which were removed from public ministry or employment.

Two of the reports were cleared, and eight were found to be inconclusive. The report also found that an investigation is pending in one case, while one another was removed and referred to religious order.

"If I receive enough information to report it to police, I do. If I know where it took place, then I will report it," Valenti said. "There are criminal investigations pending as a result of my findings."

Bishop Robert Finn appointed Valenti, a former assistant prosecuting attorney in the Jackson County Prosecutor's office, as ombudsman in June 2011. Valenti released her report Thursday.

Valenti receives and investigates all reports of sexual misconduct or suspicious behavior by clergy, lay employees and volunteers in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. Not all of the reported complaints involved priests.

As far as those reported for suspicious or inappropriate behavior, 20 were clergy, 17 were employees, 11 were family members, seven were volunteers, five were among the religious order and 12 were unknown.  

Four were removed from service, five were educated and returned to work under supervision and nine were cleared. One investigation is pending and another was referred to religious order.

Members of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said the report is unfinished.

Church officials did not name the accused in the report, which SNAP contends puts other children at risk.

Many of the reported cases involved adults making accusations about experiences in their childhood.

"Of the 20 cases of abuse, 16 occurred more than 10 years ago," Valenti said. "One was before I started my position, but within the last five years ago and the others were current reports. They involve current allegations."

Rebecca Randles, who represents abuse victims, said the report is a good start, but does not go far enough, including naming abusers.

"We have no idea what the circumstances are," she said. "We don't know if a child predator is still in the ministry somewhere."

Valenti said the diocese released the names of anyone involved in public service, but cannot release the names of those who are not.

Randles wants reports made anonymously investigated.

"Someone getting the courage to call and make an anonymous report is still a huge victory for a child abuse victim," Randles said.

Valentine disagrees because she said anonymous cases are difficult to prove.

"There's a difference in being anonymous and confidential and I can assure victims that they can be kept confidential and that the only people who need to know or are involved will know," she said.

The diocese plans to release the report annually and victims to report abuse no matter how long ago it was.

Click here to read the 2011-2012 Ombudsman report.

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