Nebraska: Government, Diocese Call for Abuse Victims to Come Forward

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by David Nussman  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  August 17, 2018   

Attorney general and bishop call for people to bring abuse allegations to authorities

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LINCOLN, Neb. (ChurchMilitant.com) - After Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro released the grand jury report about child sex abuse in the Catholic Church, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson is likewise encouraging victims of clerical sex abuse to contact authorities.

In a news release on Thursday, the state attorney general's office 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 attorney general's office 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."

It also said, "For the safety of all Nebraskans, it is important that you speak up so perpetrators are brought to justice and other possible victims are protected from future harm."

The statement encouraged victims to reach out "regardless of when it [the abuse] occurred."


At the same time, the Catholic diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska is asking people to come forward with allegations of both clergy sexual behavior and clergy sexual abuse.

In a piece on Friday in diocesan newspaper Southern Nebraska Register, Lincoln's Bp. James Conley recommended that people tell the diocese about allegations of sexual misconduct by clergy. If the alleged behavior is criminal, he said people should contact law enforcement as well.

Recently, the Lincoln diocese announced that it has investigated five priests accused of sexual abuse or sexual activity. Two priests resigned, one was dismissed from being a pastor and another retired. The fifth priest whose behavior was investigated has been dead for 10 years.

Bishop Conley alluded to a recent 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 compares Msgr. Kalin's behavior to that of disgraced ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, writing, "Like McCarrick, Kalin always kept a close circle of attractive, handsome young men around him, and, curiously, he rarely if ever socialized with other priests or people his own age." 

He said the monsignor would pick a seminarian to go on a walk with him, then would pressure the young man to help him take off his clothes and take a shower. 

Mitchell felt marginalized as a heterosexual man amid the homosexual grooming culture.

During one-on-one vocation meetings, Mitchell recalls that Msgr. Kalin would yell and cuss at him for a while, but always ended the meeting 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 notes that his experiences in seminary with Msgr. Kalin helped him form a lax, disobedient attitude toward the priesthood.

 

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