What happens to all these suspended predator priests? Prepared to be disgusted or at least worried. Look at a dozen of these guys:
Fr. Thomas J. Cronin of Kansas City, accused of assaulting a teenaged girl, is trying to set up a women’s shelter in Nevada.
A Superior Wisconsin priest, Fr. Thomas E. Ericksen, worked with the Special Olympics in Missouri.
Another accused Kansas City priest, Fr. Michael E. Brewer, works with “disadvantaged youth” in Colorado.
An accused Miami priest, Fr. Ronaldo J. Castillo, lived above a day care center.
An accused Chicago priest, Fr. John M. Furdek, lived in a building with a day care center.
An accused Connecticut priest, Fr. Richard McGann, lived at an in-home day care center.
An accused Spokane priest, Fr. Patrick G. O’Donnell, became a counselor.
An accused Steubenville, Ohio priest, Fr. Gary Zalenski, became a college professor.
So did an accused Orange County Catholic school teacher, Thomas Hodgman, who admitted his child sex crimes. (He’s now at Adrian College in Michigan).
This is a painfully common pattern: Bishops suspend predator priests, largely because their lawyers, insurers, and public relations officials insist on it. But they refuse to house or monitor these dangerous clerics. They refuse to help police and prosecutors pursue them. They refuse to aggressively reach out to other victims, witnesses and whistleblowers.
And these priests, who abused their authority and positions, get more authority and new positions, becoming coaches, teachers, counselors and other similar positions that enable them be around and over kids.
Why bring this up now?
Because it’s still happening. And because last year, reports of abuse by priests jumped by about 35%.
And because the number of accused US priest is now somewhere between 6,500 and 6,900.
And because predator priests (and nuns and bishops and brothers and seminarians) are – like everyone else – living longer so what they do when they’re freed up from their daily duties matters even more.
And because, last month, once again, the head of America’s prelates, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, claimed he and his colleagues “remain ever vigilant in the protection of children.”
And because of a particularly new and similar case in Detroit. A priest there who was ousted because he molested a girl now works for a non-profit that reportedly helps girls. And adding insult to injury, top Detroit Catholic officials pretend they’re powerless to stop him.
Fr. Kenneth Kaucheck works for Gianna House Pregnancy and Parenting Residence, “which he founded last year along with Sister Mary Diane Masson in a former convent,” according to the Daily Tribune.
In 2009, Fr. Kaucheck was ousted from Guardian Angels parish in Clawson because of credible allegations he had molested a girl.
Five years ago, we wrote that Archbishop Allen Vigneron should disclose where Fr. Kaucheck was living, and put him in “a remote, secure treatment center so that kids can be safer and so that he can get treatment.”
Vignernon ignored us.
As best we can tell, Vigneron evidently told few or no parishioners where Kaucheck was which, we believe, is a violation of church policies and Vigneron’s repeated pledges to be “open and transparent” in clergy sex cases.
Vigneron’s irresponsible secrecy is one reason then non-profit’s board chair, Dr. Robert Walsh, says he was unaware of the accusation against Fr. Kaucheck and Fr. Kaucheck’s suspension.
But shame on him. A simple Google search would have shown that this priest allegedly molested at least one girl. (And we strongly suspect that he molested others.)
Vigneron claims he’s asking the Vatican’s help in ousting Fr. Kaucheck from the non-profit.
He’s being deceptive, as is his public relations staffer, Joe Kohn. Both men know the church is a monarchy, that priests swear to obey their bishops, and that it’s simple, cheap, and easy for church officials to protect kids from Fr. Kaucheck.
All they need to do is use the dozens of Detroit church websites and bulletins to warn families about Fr. Kaucheck. Vigneron should insist that every priest announce from the pulpit next Sunday what Fr. Kaucheck has done and where Fr. Kaucheck is. That’s a surefire, immediate way to make it harder for him to assault another girl.
Kohn and Vigneron can also threaten Fr. Kaucheck, saying “We’ll give your full personnel file to law enforcement unless you do as we say.” Frankly, they should have done so years ago.
Kohn claims Detroit church officials “are addressing the matter under canon law.” Baloney. Canon law is what bishops hide behind when they are too timid or self-serving to take decisive action against a child molesting cleric. We know of no bishop anywhere who has been penalized under “canon law” for taking steps to safeguard kids from a predator priest.
Vigneron can and should take immediate steps to warn parents, police, prosecutors, parishioners, and the public about Fr. Kaucheck and remove him from working anywhere he might have access to youngsters.
So too should every bishop who’s ever let any of these dozen predators – or thousands of others – work or live in their dioceses. But don’t hold your breath.
In the months ahead, you’ll likely read about yet another priest who’s been deemed too dangerous to work in a parish but winds up as a teacher, tutor, or chaplain somewhere else. When you do, you’ll likely feel anger or disgust toward the predator. But remember the person who could have prevented this – a bishop, one who has likely said just what Archbishop Kurtz said last month: he’s “ever vigilant in the protection of children.”