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The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City of the Roman Catholic Church released a report Thursday that named 11 priests who were determined to have “substantiated” evidence pointing to their abuse of minors.

None of the priests are currently serving in leadership roles in the denomination.

Six have died. One is incarcerated. Two have been “laicized” meaning that they have had their clergy authority removed. One was suspended November 2018 but was “removed from ministry” by Archbishop Paul S. Coakley only days ago.

Report delivered

Church officials commissioned the McAfee & Taft law firm in Oklahoma City to conduct a full investigation of possible clergy abuse of minors and most importantly, to assess the processes of the Archdiocese in handling the matters and make recommendations for improvement.

The 11 cited in the report were among about 545 priests in the Archdiocese whose files were reviewed by the firm.

From church records, court records, and interviews McAfee Taft determined that there are “substantiated allegations” that the following priests committed abuse of minors while serving in leadership roles in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the previous Archdiocese of Oklahoma from 1960 through 2018.

  • Father Thomas Behnke, O.C.D. – deceased
  • Father David Armstead Cowden – deceased
  • Father Stephen Cude – not active
  • Father Mathias Faue – deceased
  • David B. Imming – laicized (removed from clergy role)
  • Father Francis Albert Mantica – deceased
  • Father James Mickus – removed from ministry
  • Father Rocco Perone – deceased
  • Father Edward Prather – deceased
  • James Francis Rapp – incarcerated
  • Benjamin Zoeller – laicized

The list is separate from a list of 11 priests in the Diocese of Tulsa that was formed in 1973 when the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa split into two. The priests whose files went to the Diocese of Tulsa were included in a separate report released Thursday and were not included in the report Thursday.

“We failed”

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley released a document entitled “Letter to the faithful” at the same time as the report.

In it, he says, “The long and short of it is you trusted us, and we failed.”

He then issues an apology.

I want to begin by expressing my profound sorrow and most sincere apologies to each person who has ever been a victim of sexual abuse by anyone representing the Church. I also am sorry for the complicity and negligence of those who failed to respond adequately to reports of abuse, for whatever reason, whether they are bishops, priests, deacons, religious or laypersons representing the Church.

In the letter, Coakley vows to establish “trust through greater transparency.”

He said that the Archdiocese had given full access to physical and electronic files on priests under their jurisdiction since 1960.

Coakley also said that an investigation is underway of to find any abuse by priests before 1960.

Findings

The report clearly lists problems with the way the Archdiocese has handled abuse up to this point.

  • The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City has inadequate controls over its own records
  • The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City has inconsistently and inadequately investigated allegations of sexual abuse of minors in the past
  • In some instances, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City failed to take appropriate action when presented with credible allegations that its priests had sexually abused minors
  • The Archdiocese failed to properly evaluate priests transferring to the Archdiocese
  • In some instances, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City failed to follow its own policies and procedures relating to allegations of sexual misconduct

The report lists eleven recommendations.

  • Procure an integrated record management system
  • Adopt a written record retention policy
  • Create and maintain personnel files on all priests serving within the territory of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, including religious order priests
  • Refer all allegations of sexual abuse of minors – past and present – to law enforcement and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services
  • Engage a qualified independent investigator to conduct the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City’s investigations into allegations of sexual abuse of minors
  • All evidence developed during an investigation of allegations of sexual abuse of minors should be presented to the Review Board before it makes a recommendation or finding to the Archbishop
  • The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City should clarify in its policies and procedures whether it will investigate allegations of sexual abuse of minors when the alleged victim is now an adult and the accused priest is now deceased
  • Conduct training on all new and updated policies and procedures relating to sexual abuse of minors
  • Communicate and publicize all actions relating to retirement, suspension, removal, or laicization of priests if any basis for the retirement, suspension, removal, or laicization relates to allegations of sexual abuse of minors
  • Discipline Archdiocese personnel who withhold information concerning sexual abuse of minors
  • Improve policies and procedures for vetting extern priests applying for assignments in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

To learn more

The full report is embedded below.

Go to ArchOKC.org/clergyabusereport to study a full range of documents the Archdiocese has provided on clergy abuse.

OKC_Archdiocese_Report_FINAL



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