Salina Diocese releases names of clergy in sex abuse investigation

SALINA, Kan. (KWCH) The Catholic Diocese of Salina says an investigation has found 14 clergy members with "substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor."

Last September, Bishop Gerald Vincke hired the independent outside counsel of Cottonwood Law LLC. of Hillsboro to conduct a thorough review of clergy personnel files and identify any potential cases of clergy misconduct with minors.

The report found 14 cases of diocesan clergy abuse of a minor. None of the 14 priests are in active ministry today and all but two have died.

At this time, the Diocese of Salina is only releasing the names of clerics with substantiated allegations of abuse of a minor. Any cleric with an allegation of abuse of a minor that is unsubstantiated has been excluded from the list.

The KBI began it's own investigation into reports of clergy sexual abuse at the beginning of February. The Catholic Diocese of Salina is one of four dioceses in Kansas that the special KBI task force is investigating.

The names of the 14 priests were released on the Diocese website.

Bishop Jerry Vincke released the following statement in regards to the investigation:

In September of 2018, shortly after I arrived in Salina, I asked that an independent review be completed on our priest files. In this edition of The Register, you will find the results of that investigation. There are 14 diocesan priests who have substantiated allegations of abuse of a minor. Additionally, you will also find the results of the independent investigation conducted by the Order of Franciscan Minors Capuchin Province of St. Conrad, headquartered in Denver. They have listed 13 Capuchins who have served in our diocese at some point within their ministry and who have credible allegations of abuse of a minor.

I begin by offering my apologies to all people who are victims of clergy abuse and to the families of any person who was abused. My heart aches for you. I am sorry for any time in the past when the diocese did not appropriately respond to the plea of an individual who was a victim of abuse. There have been times in the past when the Church failed to address the needs of the people who are victims in favor of protecting the reputation of the priest. I am sorry for any time in the past when the Church attempted to solve the issues on their own instead of informing the proper law enforcement of an allegation. By our omission, we committed a terrible injustice to all people who are victims of abuse. We realize that the majority of the clergy abuse occurred decades ago; however, the wounds of that abuse are very deep. I have made mistakes, too. I haven’t always given the people who are victims of clergy abuse my best attention and prompt response.

Bishop Vincke says national news of sexual abuse involving children prompted him to investigate allegations at his own diocese. He believes there no no accused priests still practicing at the Catholic Diocese of Salina.

The KBI says people needing to come forward to report abuse can do so by calling the Kansas Protection Report Center at 1-800-922-5330, the KS Crime Hotline at 1-800-KS CRIME or sending an email message to clergyabuse@kbi.ks.gov.

Here is the list of substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor (or vulnerable adult).

• Louis Bachand
Year of birth: 1931
Year of ordination: 1957
Last known status: Deceased 1991
Estimated time frame of abuse: late 1950s-early 1960s
Abuse reported: 2011
Diocesan action: Priest was deceased at time of reported allegation. Diocese conducted an investigation.

• Maurice Dion
Year of birth: 1917
Year of ordination: 1944
Last known status: Deceased 2004
Estimated time frame of abuse: 1960s-1970s
Abuse reported: 2002
Diocesan action: Diocesan investigation was ongoing at the time of the priest’s death. Allegations were not substantiated until after the priest had passed away.

• Christian Dreiling
Year of birth: 1887
Year of ordination: 1915
Last known status: Deceased 1960
Estimated time frame of abuse: 1930s
Abuse reported: 1939
Diocesan action: Diocese conducted an investigation. In 1940, he was placed on diocesan and court-ordered leave, which lasted eight years, due to criminal activity. During his leave, Father Dreiling received five years of treatment. Treatment was found successful, and Father Dreiling was re-instated to ministry from 1948 to his death.

• Roger Hough
Year of birth: 1936
Year of ordination: 1964
Last known status: Deceased 2018
Estimated time frame of abuse: 2001-2002
Abuse reported: 2002
Diocesan action: Diocese conducted an investigation and removed priest from ministry in 2005. He was ordered by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome to live a life of prayer and penance.

• Louis Mattas
Year of birth: 1928
Year of ordination: 1960
Last known status: Deceased 2011
Estimated time frame of abuse: mid 1960s and early 1980s
Abuse reported: 2005 and 2007
Diocesan action: Diocese conducted an investigation. The 2005 allegation was unable to be proven. The 2007 allegation was substantiated. Father Mattas was ordered by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome to live a life of prayer and penance.

• William Merchant
Year of birth: 1911
Year of ordination: 1938
Last known status: Deceased 1975
Estimated time frame of abuse: 1960s-1970s
Abuse reported: 1968, 1999, 2000-2004
Diocesan action: The 1968 and 1999 allegations were not investigated at that time. The 2000-2004 allegations were investigated.

• John Moeder
Year of birth: 1931
Year of ordination: 1957
Last known status: Deceased 2012
Estimated time frame of abuse: late 1970s
Abuse reported: 2018
Diocesan action: Priest was deceased at time of reported allegation. Diocese conducted an investigation.

• Thomas O’Donohoe
Year of birth: 1887
Year of ordination: 1910
Last known status: Deceased 1951
Estimated time frame of abuse: 1943-1945
Abuse reported: 2004
Diocesan action: Priest was deceased at time of reported allegation. Diocese conducted an investigation.

• Robert Reif
Year of birth: 1939
Year of ordination: 1967
Last known status: Laicized 2006
Estimated time frame of abuse: 1970s-1980s
Abuse reported: 1986, 2002, 2005
Diocesan action: Diocese conducted an investigation. Suspended from ministry and sent away for treatment from 1986-1987. Was granted a leave of absence in 1988 and did not return to the Diocese of Salina.

• Allen Scheer
Year of birth: 1962
Year of ordination: 1995
Last known status: Convicted and Laicized 2012
Estimated time frame of abuse: 2012
Abuse reported: 2012 (Abuse occurred with a vulnerable adult/person with disabilities, as defined by Substantive Norms for More Grave Delicts, Art. 6, § 1, 1°)
Diocesan action: Diocese conducted an investigation. Removed from ministry in 2012 and began laicization process.

• Robert Schleiter
(Diocese of Wichita)
Year of birth: 1926
Year of ordination: 1954
Last known status: Laicized 1969; Deceased 1995
Estimated time frame of abuse: 1950s
Abuse reported: 1957, 1980, 2003
Diocesan action: Diocese conducted an investigation. Priest was asked to leave the Salina Diocese in 1957, and he did. In 1980, no response to the allegation. In 2003, the same individual who reported in 1980 reported again, and the diocese responded appropriately.

• Eugene Senecal
Year of birth: 1912
Year of ordination: 1940
Last known status: Deceased 1975
Estimated time frame of abuse: 1960s-1970s
Abuse reported: 1994, 2002
Diocesan action: Priest was deceased at time of reported allegation. Diocese conducted an investigation.

• Arthur Van Speybroeck
Year of birth: 1875
Year of ordination: 1902
Last known status: Left Diocese of Salina sometime after 1908
Estimated time frame of abuse: 1907
Abuse reported: 1907
Diocesan action: Diocese conducted an investigation. Priest left Diocese of Salina after the allegation.

• John Wlash
Year of birth: 1929
Year of ordination: 1955
Last known status: Deceased 2009
Estimated time frame of abuse: 1972-1978
Abuse reported: 2002
Diocesan action: Diocese conducted an investigation. Priest retired immediately following the allegation.