LINCOLN, Neb. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Nebraska attorney general has met with men who claim they were sexually abused by priests of the diocese of Lincoln.
Several alleged male victims of clerical sex abuse say they have spoken about their experiences with the attorney general's office. The attorney general does not comment on ongoing investigations.
Three alleged male victims interviewed by Nebraska newspaper the Omaha World-Herald said they didn't trust the Lincoln diocese's internal investigation and wanted an investigation by law enforcement.
Father Nicholas Kipper of the diocese of Lincoln also spoke of the need for an independent investigation. He told the World-Herald, "Law enforcement is the best independent investigator" and encouraged victims to go to law enforcement first — and maybe the diocese second.
Both Nebraskan government and the Lincoln diocese have called for victims of clerical sex abuse to come forward with their allegations. Lincoln is one of three dioceses in the state.
In a press release on Aug. 16, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson issued an "important reminder to all Nebraskans," calling on citizens to report allegations of sex abuse to authorities. The statement provides phone numbers for the Nebraska Child Abuse Hotline and the Nebraska Crime Stoppers Tip Line.
The statement said, "Also, if you are not a victim but have reason to believe abuse of a child has occurred, or a child is at risk, you are required by law to report such information to the appropriate authorities."
The attorney general encouraged victims to speak up "regardless of when [the abuse] occurred."
In a column on Aug. 17 for the diocesan newspaper, Southern Nebraska Register, Bp. James D. Conley of Lincoln emphasized that people should contact law enforcement and the diocese to bring forth allegations of clerical sexual misconduct.
After listing the numbers for law enforcement and diocesan hotlines, Bp. Conley wrote, "As you read this and consider it with an open heart, I hope one thing we are learning together is that your reports and vigilance must include things that make you uncomfortable, that you may question in your own mind and heart if they really constitute 'abuse.' Please report these if there is uncertainty, and know that those reports are critical."
Bishop Conley listed clergy of the Lincoln diocese who had been accused of sexual abuse and alluded to an exposé by former priest Peter Mitchell. Mitchell was a seminarian in the diocese of Lincoln in the late 1990s and claims then-vocations director Msgr. Leonard Kalin "had a widespread reputation for heavy drinking, chain-smoking, frequent gambling and basically modeling addictive behaviors to the young people whom he was set over as pastor and vocation director."
Mitchell alleges that Msgr. Kalin, now deceased, would pick a seminarian to go on a walk with him one-on-one, and after the walk, would pressure the young man to "help him shower."
During one-on-one vocation meetings, Mitchell recalls that Msgr. Kalin would often yell and cuss at him, but ended the meetings with an awkward, tight-pressed hug lasting "several minutes." Mitchell found the hugs extremely "off-putting," but rationalized them as just an odd display of affection from an old man.
Mitchell was ordained and entered priestly ministry. He was laicized in 2017 "as a consequence of having violated my vow of celibacy as a priest on more than one occasion."
He claims "full responsibility" but speculates that his experiences in seminary with Msgr. Kalin might have helped him form a lax, disobedient attitude toward the priesthood.