Twelve of the 19 priests on a new list of clerics who officials say have substantiated allegations of child sex abuse against them served churches in Eastern Jackson County at some point in their ministry.
The list, released Friday by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, included no current priests. With the exception of federal prison inmate Shawn Ratigan, all allegations are from before 1990. Thirteen of the 19 have died, two have been permanently removed from ministry, and four including Ratigan have been laicized, or removed from the clerical state.
The diocese also released the names of 11 clerics in other categories. Three had substantiated allegations while in the diocese but are now under the control of other dioceses, Two religious-order priests have been removed from ministry. Three former diocesan priests were found "unsuitable for ministry out of concern for the safety of our youth." Three clergy are part of legal settlements but their cases have not been substantiated in court or by the church. One of the accused priests in another diocese and all three found unsuitable for ministry served in Eastern Jackson County.
Of the 12 accused priests who served in the area, four reportedly had allegations stemming from their local tenures, according to the website bishopaccountability.org – Francis McGlynn (St. Mary, Independence, 1970-74), Hugh Monahan (St. Robert Bellarmine, Blue Springs, 1983-87), Thomas O’Brien (Nativity of Mary, Independence, 1981-83) and Stephen Wise (Our Lady of Presentation, Lee’s Summit, 1981-85). Monahan and Wise have been laicized, and McGlynn and O’Brien died earlier in the decade. Also, Mark Honhart (Nativity, 1980-81) was serving in the Scranton, Pennsylvania Diocese when he was permanently removed from ministry. All had more than one allegation against them, according to the report.
Robert Cameron, who served at St. Ann, St. Mark and St. Mary in Independence and was principal at St. Mary High School during his ministry and died in 2015, had one allegation against him, though the time is not clear. The one allegation against John Giacopelli, who served at Nativity and also a few years as a Jackson County legislator in 1970s and died last year, also is unclear.
Allegations against Michael Brewer (St. John LaLande, Blue Springs, 1991-93), James Ford (St. Mark, 1986), Thomas Reardon (Church of Santa Fe, Buckner, 1977-78), Michael Tierney (Holy Spirit, Lee’s Summit, 1998-2009), John Tulipana (Nativity, 1972-76) and Thomas Ward (St. Mary, 1972-77, Nativity 1990-94) appear to have occurred during service at other churches.
Brewer and Tierney have been removed from ministry, Reardon is laicized and Ford, Reardon, Tulipana and Ward have died.
The three determined to be unsuitable for ministry out of concern for youth safety are Thomas Cronin (St. Mary 1969-70, Bellarmine 1993-97), Stephen Muth (St. Cyril and St. Luke, Sugar Creek, 2002-10) and Michael Rice (Presentation 1986-98, St. Margaret, Lee’s Summit after that). Cronin and Rice are retired. Muth was a Byzantine Catholic priest as part of an Eastern Rite church that answers to Rome but maintains separate traditions. In addition to being pastor at St. Luke, he was administrator of St. Cyril, which is part of the Catholic diocese.
Ratigan did not serve in the area, but after allegations against him then-Bishop Robert Finn removed him from ministry and sent him to stay at the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist campus in northern Independence. He was arrested while there on charges of producing child pornography.
"The dreadful scourge of sexual abuse of minors has wounded our entire family of faith," Bishop James Johnston Jr. said in a statement accompaying the list. "As shepherd of our local church, I must do all in my power to eradicate this sin, heal those who have been harmed, and bring to justice those who have offended.
“In releasing this list my first hope is that it will acknowledge the survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their wounds. The release of these names cannot change the past. It is merely a step forward in hope, but a necessary step.”
Johnston said the findings came after independent investigators with Fidelity Consultants reviewed the diocese's records from 1956 to the present. The list has been turned over to the Missouri attorney general's office, which is investigating clergy sex abuse in the state's four dioceses.
Johnston said an allegation is considered substantiated by factors such as: admission by the accused, corroboration by witnesses, multiple similar allegations, documents, emails, photos or through another source, such as an investigation by law enforcement of the diocese’s Independent Review Board. The list released Friday, he said, is based on information currently available.
One of the eight accused priests from the Benedictine Conception Abbey on a list released last month after a separate investigation, Isaac True, celebrated some Masses at Nativity of Mary Parish in 2011 and has since been removed from ministry.