Certain Church practices and circumstances “served to obscure the truth about both the allegations of child abuse and sexual assault and their handling of such allegations,” the report said.
The report gave nine examples of challenges that the KBI faced in its investigation.
Some victims had signed nondisclosure agreements with the Church in a civil lawsuit and “were reluctant” to provide information.
The priests or victims had died in many cases.
Church officials would often use euphemisms to minimize the severity of sexual abuse by clergy.
Allegations of sexual abuse would sometimes not be reported to law enforcement by Church officials.
Parishioners were not offered transparency from the Church on sexual abuse.
Dioceses did not practice good record-keeping. The deletion of documents related to sexual abuse, whether intentional or unintentional, resulted.
Diocesan investigations into past sex abuse allegations were insufficient.
Each diocese failed to follow its own policy on sex abuse allegations of the clergy.
Church officials “frequently attempted to avoid scandal” and would not take action against offending clergy. The Church would move offending priests to different assignments, continue its financial support of the priest, fail to laicize the priest, and fail to monitor the priest.
The report said that the “investigation found a common thread regarding the prevalence of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy within a particular diocese in that it appears to be directly related to the degree of tolerance allowed by the bishop.”
The bishop was made aware of sex abuse allegations “to at least some degree” in most cases, the report said.
“Some bishops handled the allegations appropriately, but many others facilitated further abuse of minors by concealing the crimes or reassigning the priest to a new parish,” the report said.
The report said that priests would often use their position of authority to discourage the victim from reporting them.
“Several victims relayed accounts of being told that what was happening to them was okay because he was a priest. At least one victim reported being told by his offender that if he told anyone he would go to hell,” the report said.
The long-term effect of the abuse on the victims was also detailed in the report.
“Throughout the investigation, our team heard from many victims who attributed their alcohol or drug abuse, or their ‘wrecked lives,’ to the sexual abuse they endured,” the report said.
The report said that a few of the victims interviewed were in prison and partly attributed their incarceration to their abuse from the clergy. In certain cases where the victims of sexual abuse had committed suicide, the family of the victims said that they believed the victim’s death was directly correlated to the abuse.
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“Our agents witnessed men, now in their 60s and 70s, break down in tears as they reported their sexual abuse to our team,” the report said.
According to the report, the SSPX investigation will continue.
The investigation began in November 2018 at the request of Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City.
A Jan. 7 statement from the Archdiocese of Kansas City said: “The archbishop expressed his gratitude to the Kansas attorney general for the professionalism and thoroughness he and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation brought to the study.”
Naumann said in the statement: “You cannot read this report without your heart breaking.”
“Like other dioceses across the country, the dioceses in Kansas have for some 20+ years implemented programs to protect children and vulnerable adults in its parishes and schools, and the report indicates a steep decline in allegations in recent decades,” the statement said.