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24 metro priests credibly accused of sexual abuse of a child

Posted at 10:59 PM, Sep 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-06 23:59:20-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph released a list on Friday of 24 priests credibly accused of sexual abuse.

The report followed an investigation organized by the diocese earlier this year involving former FBI agents who were given access to church documents dating back to 1956.

Of the 24 priests listed in the report, 19 were official members of the diocese.

The majority of the priests have since died, with many of the cases dating back decades.

For David Biersmith, one of the names brought back memories of horrors his two sons allegedly experienced back in the 1970s.

“Physically, they were raped. I don’t know how else to say it,” he told 41 Action News. “It happened when they were 9, 10 and 11.”

His two sons didn’t report the alleged sexual abuse to their father until almost 20 years ago, and the experience still brings plenty of pain for them.

“I have eight children and those two are still struggling tremendously about this,” Biersmith said. “The strange thing about it is neither one knew the other was being abused.”

Years later, their father hasn’t forgotten the name of the man who allegedly sexually abused them.

“Hugh Monahan. M-o-n-a-h-a-n,” he said.

The former priest’s name was one of the two dozen that appeared on the diocese report released on Friday.

Following the announcement, Director of Child and Youth Protection Carrie Cooper spoke to 41 Action News about how the report brought an important step.

“This is something that victims have asked for and survivors have asked for,” she said. “It’s been a goal to be transparent in the work we do. This is another effort in transparency.”

Cooper noted that no active members of the diocese appeared on the list and that almost all the allegations stemmed from before 1990.

After working directly with some survivors, Cooper said it was important for the diocese to grow stronger from the report.

“While we can’t change what happened in the past, we can try and move forward,” she said. “Our goal now is a culture change to where this is something we can talk about.”

Moving forward, Cooper said the diocese would continue training all adults to be aware of possible abuse.

She also said that everyone is encouraged to report any possible incidents that may have occurred.

With investigations continuing, Cooper added that the list of priests connected to alleged sexual abuse cases may grow longer.

“With sexual abuse in general, we know statistically that perpetrators typically have more than one victim and sometimes it can be hundreds of victims,” she said.

As for the concerns raised from seeing two dozen names linked to alleged crimes, Cooper said the diocese would continue to take on the issue.

“This has been a really deep break in trust,” she said. “Our goal is to work and see if there is any way we can try to regain that.”