KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- A key player in the Pennsylvania Catholic church investigation says he’s skeptical of the current investigations in both Missouri and Kansas.
Leading nationwide advocate and investigator Richard Serbin says the Pennsylvania investigation should serve as a road map and warning.
Right now, there are 205 credibly accused priests in the Kansas City area and 21 in Kansas City, KS. But, if history is any guide. This number is wrong. It’s much worse.
And, Serbin, a Pennsylvania attorney, says to get to the truth it’s going to take a lot more than what’s currently being done.
“Be skeptical … in my experience, these records are hidden, destroyed. There’s perjury. I’ve seen what has happened, and I’m not confident about fill disclosure,” Serbin said.
Serbin has battled churches and coverups.
“There’s a lack of honesty,” he said.
Serbin investigated terrible crimes in Pennsylvania and compiled a list of credibly accused priests. He found 109. A grand jury with subpoena powers got involved and dug further. They found more than 300.
“That’s why I am a cynic to these investigations unless done thorough and done carefully with the objective with the goal of exposing the truth transparency of what has gone on and that’s exactly what the church will oppose,” Serbin said.
He points to Buffalo where the bishop came clean and admitted to 42 problem priests. But then, a whistleblower stepped forward and said it was more than 100.
Serbin says parishes and diocese keep secret documents. He’s also seen church leaders and priests hide the truth through confession.
“They go to confession and feel they can absolve themselves of their crimes … not only of protecting child predators of committing perjury, failing to provide under oath complete answers to discovery,” Serbin said.
Serbin’s warning is echoed by local survivors who told KCTV5’s investigative unit to not be fooled by promises the church will come clean.
“People don’t want to hear it. It’s too horrible of a story nobody wants to hear it,” Tom Viviano said.
“No one is going to be held accountable responsible. They just get away Scott free,” Mike Foreman said.
Local accusers and the lawyer who represents the majority of the victims in the Kansas City metro area question new plans to investigate Catholic priests.
Viviano and Forman say trusted priests abused them as children.
“It’s going through my mind right now what took place. I hate living through it,” Viviano said.
Viviano says in his case the St. Louis Archdiocese is hiding behind church lawyers who play a sick game of humiliating survivors.
“The depositions were there to break me. To get me to stop just stop,” Viviano said.
Forman’s case will never go to trial. Because the Kansas City, Kansas Archdiocese was able to legally use the statute of limitations.
“All of this talk about transparency accountability and prayers all that nonsense that’s all a bunch of nothing,” Forman said.
Forman and Viviano say the church has different actions behind the scenes. Both men consider the healing ceremonies and calls for prayer and empathy nothing more than public relations.
“And yet you hear from Vatican on down to each diocese, bishops say our hearts break for survivors. If your hearts break, show us by action,” Serbin said.
The Kansas City, Kansas Archdiocese has hired a law firm to do an independent review of their records. In Missouri, the attorney general has launched an investigation.
But, both investigations lack subpoena powers and grand juries. That is what survivors and legal experts say will be needed to get to the truth.
KCTV5 checked back to see where things stand with both investigations. A spokesperson with the Missouri Attorney General’s Office says they are working quickly and carefully but pointed out it took Pennsylvania two years.
Kansas City, KS says the review is underway but there is no timetable or estimate for when that law firm will be finished with their inspection of documents.
KCTV5 will keep you posted on both inquires.